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Full text of "Ethnopharmacologic search for psychoactive drugs. Proceedings of a symposium held in San Francisco, California, January 28-30, 1967"

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^^^1  31967 

mmmi  mimm  or  hialu 

Ethnopharmacologic  Search  for 

Within  the  symbolic  chemical  representation  on  the  cover 
are  shown  a  view  of  a  mushroom  stone  from  the  Namuth 
collection  and  a  morning  glory  blossom.  The  mushroom 
stone — early  pre-classic,  circa  B.C.  1000-500 — contains  a 
figure  believed  to  be  that  of  a  young  woman  before  a  metate 
or  grinding  stone. 

Workshop  Series  of  Pharmacology  Section,  N.I.M.H.  No. 

Ethnopharmacologic  Search  for 

Proceedings  of  a  Symposium  held  in  San  Francisco,  California 
January  28-30,  1967 

DANIEL  H.  EFRON,  Editor-in-Chief, 
National  Institute  of  Mental  Health, 
Chevy  Chase,  Maryland 

BO  HOLMSTEDT,  Co-Editor,  NATHAN  S.  KLINE,  Co-Editor, 

Karolinska  Institutet,  Rockland  State  Hospital, 

Stockholm,  Sweden  Orangeburg,  New  York 

Sponsored  by: 

Pharmacology  Section,  Psychopharmacology  Research  Branch 
National  Institute  of  Mental  Health      Public  Health  Service 


The  opinions  expressed  and  any  conclusions 
drawn  are  those  of  the  participants  of  the 
Symposium  and  are  not  to  he  understood  as 
necessarily  having  the  endorsement  of,  or 
representing  the  viewpoints  of,  the  Public 
Health  Service  of  the  U.S.  Department  of 
Health,  Education,  and  Welfare. 

Public  Health  Service  Publication  No.  1645  1967 

For  sale  by  the  Superintendent  of  Documents,  U.S.  Government  Printing  Office 
Washington,  D.C.  20402  -  Price  $4.00 


Daniel  H.  Efron 
Seymour  M.  Farber 


Nathan  S.  Kline 
Roger  H.  L.  Wilson 

Pharmacology  Section,  Psychopharmacology  Research 
Branch,  National  Institute  of  Mental  Health, 
Chevy  Chase,  Maryland 

Continuing  Education  in  Medicine  and  Health  Sciences, 
San  Francisco  Medical  Center,  Univesrsity  of  California, 
San  Tranei'sco,  California 

Department  of  Toxicology,  Swedish  Medical  Research 
Council,  Karolinska  Institute,  Stockholm,  Sweden 

Research  Center,  Rockland  State  Hospital, 
Orangeburg,  New  York 

Continuing  Education  in  Medicine  and  Health  Sciences, 
San  Francisco  Medical  Center,  University  of  California, 
San  Francisco,  California 


Chairman :  Seymour  M.  Farber  Leon  Epstein 

Virginia  Barrelier  Mrs.  Bo  Holmstedt  (Artist) 

Patricia  K.  Black  Bo  Holmstedt 

Daniel  H.  Efron  Nathan  S.  Kline 

Chauncey  Leake 
E.  Leong  Way 
Florence  Webster 
Roger  H.  L.  Wilson 



Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University, 
Cambridge,  Massachusetts 


Institute  of  Biologically  Active  Substances, 
Far-Eastern  Branch  of  Siberian  Depart- 
ment of  Academy  of  Sciences,  U.S.S.R., 
Vladivostok  22,  U.S.S.R. 


Department  of  Pharmacology,  School  of 
Pharmacy,  University  of  Pittsburgh,  Pitts- 
burgh, Pennsylvania 


Riker  Laboratories,  Inc.,  Northridge,  CJali- 


Laboratory  of  Chemistry,  National  Insti- 
tute of  Arthritis  and  Metabolic  Diseases, 
National  Institutes  of  Health,  Bethesda, 


Universidad  de  Buenos  Aires,  Facultad  de 
Ciencias  Exactas  y  Naturales,  Parera  77, 
Buenos  Aires,  Argentina 

Pharmacology  Section,  Psychopharmacol- 
ogy  Research  Branch,  National  Institute 
of  Mental  Health,  Chevy  Chase,  Maryland 
Department  of  Organic  Chemistry,  Univer- 
sity of  Zurich,  Zurich,  Switzerland 

Department  of  Anthropology,  Yale  Univer- 
sity, New  Haven,  Connecticut 


Department  of  Psychiatry,  University  of 

Chicago,  Chicago,  Illinois 

National  Institute  of  Neurological  Diseases 
and    Blindness,    National    Institutes  of 
Health,  Bethesda,  Maryland 


Department  of  Anthropology,  Wichita  State 
University,  Wichita,  Kansas 


Department  of  Toxicology,  Swedish  Medi- 
cal Research  Council,  Karolinska  Insti- 
tutet,  Stockholm  60,  Sweden 


Lipid  Research  Center,  Department  of  Bio- 
chemistry, Baylor  University  College  of 
Medicine,  Houston,  Texas 


Department  of  Medicine,  University  of 
Kentucky  Medical  Center,  Lexington,  Ken- 


Rockland  State  Hospital,  Orangeburg,  New 


Medicinal  Chemistry  Section,  Riker  Labo- 
ratories, Northridge,  California 


Department  of  Pharmacology,  University  of 
Freiburg,  Freiburg  i.  Br.,  Germany 


Bscuela  de  Medicina,  Universidad  de  Chile, 
Santiago,  Chile 

Section  on  Neuropharmacology,  New  Jer- 
sey Neuropsychiatric  Institute,  Princeton, 
New  Jersey 


Instituto  de  Estudios  Medicos  y  Biologicos, 
Universidad  Nacional  de  Mexico,  Mexico 
D.F.,  Mexico 


Donner  Laboratory,  University  of  Califor- 
nia, Berkeley,  California 


Koln-Lindenthal,  Diirenerstrasse  175,  Ger- 


Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University, 
Cambridge,  Massachusetts 


Department  of  Pharmacology,  University 
of  California,  San  Francisco  Medical  Cen- 
ter, San  Francisco,  California 


Section  on  PsychopMrmacology,  Clinical 
Neuropharmacology  Research  Center,  Na- 
tional Institute  of  Mental  Health,  St.  Eliza- 
beths Hospital,  Washington,  District  of 


Department  of  Pharmacology,  School  of 
Medicine,  Center  for  Health  Sciences, 
University  of  California,  Los  Angeles, 


Division  of  Physiology  and  Pharmacology, 

Battelle   Memorial    Institute,  Columbus, 



Department  of  Pharmacology,  University 
of  Zurich,  Zurich,  Switzerland 


Gothenburg  Ethnographic  Museum,  Norra 
Hamngaten  12,  Gothenburg,  Sweden 


Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University, 

Cambridge,  Massachusetts 


Harvard  Medical  School,  Cambridge,  Mas- 
sachusetts (mailing  address:  128  Lexing- 
ton Ave.,  Cambridge,  Massachusetts) 



The  use  of  plants  or  tlueir  extracts  for  medicinal  or  religious  cere- 
monial purposes  is  very  old — practically  as  old  as  the  human  race.  The  in- 
formation about  the  use  of  plants  as  psychotropic  agents  by  man  is  probably 
found  in  the  Bible.  The  apple  that  Adam  ate  (whatever  the  variety)  could 
be  considered  as  a  psycho-energizer.  Was  it  a  stimulator,  did  it  enhance 
memory  or  learning  abilities,  or  did  it  activiate  the  desire  for  acquiring  more 
information  ?  As  with  our  new  psychotropic  drugs,  I  don't  know  if  it  brought 
happiness  and  comfort,  or  new  problems,  aggravations,  and  unbappiness. 
Another  example  of  early  use  and  knowledge  of  medicinal  plants  we  find 
in  the  fact  that  the  most  ancient  medical  god  of  Mesopotamia — Sin — was 
also  the  god  of  medicinal  herbs. 

The  development  of  drug  chemistry  brought :  first,  isolation  from  plants 
of  a  number  of  pharmacologically  active  substances  (e.g.  curare,  atropine 
ouabain,  etc.),  later,  synthesis  of  these  entities  and  their  derivatives;  and 
finally,  creation  of  completely  new  molecules,  formerly  not  known,  in  the 
plant  or  animal  kingdom. 

We  know,  also,  that  in  the  process  of  development  and  worship  of  chemistry 
we  somehow  forgot  about  our  prime  source,  the  plants.  We  forgot  that  we 
have  used  only  some  of  the  known  substances  of  plant  origin.  At  the  same 
time,  the  intrusions  of  civilization  have  been  progressively  destroying  the 
sources  of  our  knowledge,  as  well  as  the  source  itself  of  many  plants — plants 
which  are  used  either  in  medicine  or  in  ceremonial  and  sacred  context.  Today, 
time  is  running  out  if  we  want  to  save  this  information,  and  perhaps  use  for 
medicinal  purposes  some  of  the  unknown  compounds  contained  in  plants. 

The  idea  of  acquiring  knowledge  about  these  plants  and  compounds  we 
have  neglected  or  forgotten  was  the  reason  for  organizing  this  symposium. 
It  was  self-evident  that  this  meeting  had  to  be  multidisciplinary.  We  invited 
pharmacologists,  pharmacists,  chemists,  biochemists,  psychiatrists,  anthropol- 
ogists, etc.,  etc.  We  wanted  to  exchange  existing  information,  confront  dif- 
ferent points  of  view,  and  outline  and  stimulate  research  objectives  for  the 

As  one  of  the  organizers  of  this  symposium,  I  am  certainly  biased,  but  1 
feel  that  this  meeting  was  very  successful.  I  would  like  to  include  here  the 
opinion  of  one  of  the  participants. 

"This,"  he  remarked,  "is  the  first  meeting  I  have  attended  that  at  the  end 
of  the  sessions  we  had  as  many  or  even  more  participants  than  in  the  begin- 
ning— this  is  a  measure  of  the  interest  the  meeting  has  created." 

We  discovered  after  the  meetings  how  many  scattered  researchers  in  wide 
and  varied  fields  could  contribute  to  the  knowledge  which  we  seek.  This  find- 
ing alone  was  one  of  the  very  important  immediate  gains  from  the  sym- 
posium. And  we  hope  that  in  the  future  we  will  be  able  to  organize  a  second 


meeting  on  the  same  topics,  and  cover  a  much  broader  spectrum  of  problems 
in  the  ethnopharmacologic  search  for  psychoactive  drugs. 

The  meeting  was  divided  into  six  sessions,  all  but  the  first  ending  in  panel 
discussions.  All  authors  who  delivered  papers  at  the  session  served  also  as 
panelists.  They  discussed  ditferent  problems  among  themselves  and  answered 
questions  from  the  floor.  The  discussion  after  Session  IV  covered  a  special 
topic:  "Psychoactive  Action  of  Various  Tryptamine  Derivatives,"  and  ex- 
perts in  this  field  were  invited.  The  discussions  after  Sessions  V  and  VI  were 
merged,  and  covered,  besides  specific  topics  of  these  sessions,  all  problems 
dealt  with  in  the  symposium.  Speakers  from  other  sessions  also  participated 
in  this  dicussion. 

The  discussions  held  after  the  sessions  were  recorded  m  extenso,  and  are 
printed  here  following  the  papers  of  each  session.  Because  of  the  multidis- 
ciplinary  character  of  the  symposium,  problems  of  terminology  and  the  ex- 
tent of  discussion,  no  restrictions  were  imposed  on  participants  with  regard 
to  nomenclature  used,  order  of  material  or  uniformity  of  presentation  and 
reference  listing.  The  diversity  of  form  and  style  of  the  various  presentations 
was  not  altered  for  publication;  they  remain  in  their  original  form. 

We  extend  our  deep  appreciation  and  thanks  to  the  local  group  from  the 
Ck>ntinuing  Education  in  Medicine  and  Health  Sciences,  University  of  Cali- 
fornia, San  Francisco  Medical  Center,  for  their  excellent  work  in  organizing 
this  meeting  in  San  Francisco.  This  group,  under  the  chairmanship  of  Dean 
Seymour  M.  Farber,  with  the  participation  of  Dr.  Roger  H.  Wilson,  and 
Mesdames  Virginia  Barreliei",  Patricia  K.  Black,  Florence  Webster  and 
Matilda  Wilson,  deserves  a  great  deal  of  credit  for  the  success  of  our  meeting. 

It  would  be  remiss  for  me  not  to  remark  here  (and  I  am  doing  so  with  de- 
light) on  the  contributions  of  Drs.  Bo  Holmstedt  and  Nathan  Kline,  co- 
editors  of  this  volume.  Without  their  vision,  interest,  know-how,  persistence 
and  scientific  knowledge,  this  meeting  could  not  have  taken  place.  I  would 
like  also  to  express  my  thanks  to  Dr.  Albert  A.  Manian  and  Mrs.  Shirley 
Maltz  from  the  Pharmacology  Section,  N.I.M.H.,  for  their  help  in  the 
preparation  of  this  manuscript. 

Finally,  many  thanks  to  all  speakers,  discussants  and  participants.  In  final 
analysis,  it  was  their  contributions  which  made  the  meeting  a  success,  and 
helped  so  much  in  the  stimulation  and  delineation  of  new  directions  in  re- 
search— directions  which  may  bring  us  a  new  arsenal  of  useful  drugs,  es- 
pecially in  the  field  of  psychiatry  and  neurological  diseases. 





Organizing  Committee   v 

Conference  Committee   v 

List  of  Invited  Participants   vii 

Preface   ix 

Greetings — ^WUlard  C.  Fleming   xv 

Introduction — Nathan  S.  Kline   xvii 

Letter  from  A.  Hofmann   xxi 


Chauncey  D.  Leake,  Chairman 


Chauncey  D.  Leake 


Bo  Holmstedt 


Richard  E.  Schultes 


Efren  Carlos  del  Pozo 


Daniel  X.  Freedman 

Georg  E.  Cronheim,  Chairman 


Georg  E.  Cronheim 


CULTURE   107 

LoweU  D.  Holmes 



Carleton  Gajdusek  (With  an  Appendix:  Historical  and 
Ethnographic  Accounts  of  Kava  Usage.) 


Murle  W.  Klohs 


Hans  J.  Meyer 




Joseph  P.  Buckley 


Atnedeo  S.  Marrazzi 



Carl  C.  Pfeiffer 


CleUan  S.  Ford 


Chairman — Georg  E.  Cronheim 
Members  of  the  Panel: 

Joseph  P.  Buckley 

CleUan  S.  Ford 

Carleton  Gajdusek 

Lowell  D.  Holmes 

Murle  W.  Klohs 

Hans  J.  Meyer 

Carl  C.  Pfeiffer 


Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr.,  Chairman 


Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 


Andrew  T.  WeH 


Andrew  T.  Shulgin,  Thornton  Sargent  and  Claudio  Naranjo 


NUTMEG   215 

Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 


Chairman— Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 
Members  of  the  Panel: 

Claudio  Naranjo 

Thornton  Sargent 

Alexander  T.  Shulgin 

Andrew  T.  Weil 

Bo  Holmstedt,  Chairman 



S.  Henry  Wassen 



SNUFFS   291 

Richard  E.  Schultes 


Siri  von  Reis  Altschul 


Georg  J.  Seitz 


Bo  Hohnstedt  and  Jan-Erik  Lindgren 



Chairman — Bo  Hohnstedt 
Members  of  the  Panel: 

John  W.  Daly 

Efren  Carlos  del  Pozo 

Evan  C.  Horning 

Harris  IsbeU 

Stephen  I.  Szara 

Daniel  H.  Efron,  Chairman 



Claudio  Naranio 

PERU   392 

Dermot  Taylor 


Venancio  Deulofeu 


Daniel  H.  Efron,  Chairman 


R.  Gordon  Wasson 

ITIES OF  U.S.S.R   415 

I.  I.  Brekhman 

NITA MUSCARIA  (L.  ex  Fr.)  HOOKER   416 

Conrad  H.  Eugster 



Peter  G.  Waser 


Chairman — Daniel  H.  Efron 
Members  of  the  Panel: 

Venancio  Deulofeu 

Conrad  H.  Eugster 

Claudio  Naranjo 

Dermot  Taylor 

Peter  G.  Waser 

R.  Gordon  Wasson 
Subject  Index   453 



WiLLARD  C.  Fleming,  D.D.S.  Chancellor 

University  of  California,  San  Francisco  Medical  Center, 
San  Francisco,  California 

My  name  is  Fleming.  I  am  Chancellor  of  the  San  Francisco  Medical 
Center.  If  you  do  not  know  me,  I  prefer  to  introduce  myself  always,  because 
if  my  friends  introduce  me  I  am  a  little  fearful  of  people  I  do  not  know — I 
do  a  much  better  job  myself. 

I  was  born  some  sixty-seven  years  ago  in  Sausalito  of  poor  but  honest 
parents.  The  poverty  angle  must  have  been  a  dominant  genetic  factor  because 
my  daughter  has  the  same  problem. 

I  came  here  as  a  student  of  dentistry  in  1918.  I  became  a  member  of  the 
Dental  Faculty  in  1923.  I  became  Dean  of  the  Dental  School  in  1939.  After 
three  years  of  attempting  to  retire,  I  took  three  years  to  find  my  successor. 
I  thought  this  was  fine,  until  one  of  my  "friends"  said:  "Bill,  did  it  ever 
occur  to  you  they  don't  want  to  make  the  same  mistake  twice  ?" 

From  there  to  Dean  of  Students ;  and  I  have  since  last  July  been  Chancellor 
of  this  campus.  I  have  no  illusions  about  why  a  Chancellor,  Mayor  or  Gover- 
nor gives  introductory  speeches.  This  is  for  the  audience  to  calm  down,  chat 
with  one's  neighbor,  get  the  identification,  and  so  on. 

I  will  follow  the  same  pattern.  After  residence  here  of  almost  fifty  years, 
you  should  understand  that  the  local  history  of  this  center  is  of  interest  to 
me.  History  can  be  a  very  static  chronicle  of  what  has  happened ;  or  on  the 
other  hand,  it  can  be  a  very  dynamic  encounter,  and  establish  a  sort  of  a 
curve  of  progress  that  can  be  extended  as  a  curve  of  probability  into  the 

I  welcome  the  participants  of  the  symposium  entitled,  "Ethnopharmaco- 
logical  Search  for  Psychoactive  Drugs."  I  have  a  great  deal  of  difficulty  with 
that  word.  This  is  really  the  first  time  I  have  gone  through  it  quite  smoothly. 

If  you  agree  with  what  I  said  about  history  being  used  as  our  prediction 
of  events  to  come,  you  may  agree  this  campus  is  historically  the  logical  place 
to  sponsor  this  idea. 

The  history  of  California  and  in  particular  the  Bay  Area,  is  replete  with 
the  part  medicine  has  played  in  its  development.  Bear  Flag  Republic ;  vigi- 
lante movement  in  San  Francisco ;  the  role  of  California  in  the  years  of  Civil 
War;  the  bubonic  plague  epidemic;  the  Golden  Gate  Park  and  the  health 
crisis  that  grew  out  of  the  fire  and  earthquake  of  1906 ;  an  interesting  course 
of  development. 

At  the  start  of  the  very  facilities  that  were  in  here,  now,  to  give  you  some 
idea  of  how  this  started :  like  some  medical  schools  in  the  early  days,  this 
school  started  with  the  history  of  a  proprietary  school,  in  other  words,  a 
school  for  profit.  Then  in  the  Gold  Rush  days  of  '49  and  '50,  a  great  many 
physicians  came  to  California.  They  were  adventurers,  charlatans,  and  also 


some  very  highly  qualified  and  respected  professional  people.  They  were  in- 
clined to  be  a  quarrelsome  lot.  This  is  an  attribute  that  has  not  quite  died 
out  yet ;  and  it  is  hard  to  think  of  another  group  that  was  so  individualistic. 

Among  them  was  Dr.  Hugh  Toland,  a  well  trained  and  well  qualified  sur- 
geon. He  tried  his  luck  in  the  gold  fields,  but  like  so  many  others  shortly 
returned  to  private  practice  in  San  Francisco.  He  was  eminently  successful 
both  professionally  and  economically.  During  the  '60's  his  annual  income 
was  reported  to  be  over  forty  thousand  dollars — more  than  they  pay  the 
Chancellor  today. 

This  phenomenal  income  for  those  days  was  accomplished  by  taking  ad- 
vantage of  two  situations:  The  pioneers  of  those  days  were  subject  to  many 
medical  conditions  and  diseases,  and  of  all  of  these,  scurvy  and  syphilis  were 
high  on  the  morbidity  list.  Like  many  physicians  of  those  years.  Dr.  Toland 
compounded  and  dispensed  his  own  drugs,  so  it  is  no  surprise  to  learn  that 
in  the  backroom  of  Dr.  Toland's  offices  were  two  barrels.  One  was  labeled 
"Anti-Syph"  and  the  other,  "Anti-Scrof".  There  were  no  mail  order  houses, 
but  there  was  the  Wells  Fargo  Express  throughout  the  entire  west. 

Through  the  dispensing  of  drugs  for  treatment  of  syphilis  and  scurvy 
by  mail  order,  Hugh  Toland  became  wealthy.  Like  so  many  people  of  these 
days,  he  attempted  to  memorialize  himself  by  founding  a  medical  school  in 
his  name.  It  is  an  interesting  and  intriguing  story  how,  with  the  aid  of 
Dr.  Richard  Beverly  Cole,  his  first  Dean  of  the  medical  school,  this  pair 
persuaded  Regents  of  the  newly  started  University  of  California  to  take 
on  the  Toland  Medical  School  as  the  medical  school  of  the  University  of 

The  Regents  refused  to  name  it  Toland  School  of  the  University  of  Cali- 
fornia, but  they  did  agree  that  there  should  be  a  physical  part  or  plant  with 
the  name  of  Toland.  Thus,  today  we  have  in  our  University  of  California 
Hospital  a  small  auditorium  known  as  the  Toland  Auditorium. 

Our  Department  of  Pharmacology  has  always  been  strong,  as  has  our 
School  of  Pharmacy.  Possibly  it  is  our  heritage,  the  fact  that  our  medical 
center  has  a  strong  pharmacological  school  here,  resting  on  one  barrel  of 
Anti-Syph  and  one  barrel  of  Anti-Scrof. 

At  any  rate,  one  can  see  that  this  symposium  and  its  participants  are  in  a 
hospitable  environment.  You  are  a  welcome  addition  to  a  long  line  of 
predecessors,  a  fair  example  of  the  past  and  a  prologue  to  the  future. 

Again  I  officially  welcome  you  to  the  opening  of  this  symposium. 



The  Psychology,  Philosophy,  Morality  and  Legislative 
Control  of  Drug  Usage 
Nathan  S.  Kline 

Research  Center,  Rockland  State  Hospital 
Orangeburg,  New  York 

Man's  Need  for  Action 

Man  is  an  animal  impelled  by  internal  forces  to  act.  Just  what  form 
that  action  will  take  depends  on  the  sensations  experienced,  the  learned 
modifications  of  innate  response  patterns,  and  the  possible  alternatives  exist- 
ing in  the  immediate  environmental  situation.  Behavior  based  on  purely  ra- 
tional decision,  if  it  exists  at  all,  is  certainly  rare.  Action  is  usually  evoked 
by  the  sensual  and  emotional,  or  at  times  by  reflex  or  even  motor  needs. 

Provocation&  to  Action 

Each  of  us  is  continuously  being  teased,  hoodwinked,  wheedled,  invaded, 
bluffed,  seduced  and  assaulted.  When  such  blandishments  to  action  are  at  the 
cognitive  or  even  the  emotional  level  the  attempts  are  often  obvious  enough. 
More  basic  and  often  underriding  them  are  appeals  and  approaches  to 
primitive  patterns  of  sensation  involving  incense,  drums,  drugs,  ritualistic 
postures,  idols,  pageantry;  rhythmic  sounds  and  motions  interspersed  with 
abrupt  syncopes;  vast  or  close  repetitive  visual  designs,  color  shock  and  most 
of  all,  movement.  There  are  elusive,  lingering,  attractive,  unidentifiable  odors 
or  revolting  stenches  that  stir  some  troubled  layer  that  lies  below  conscious- 
ness ;  and  the  body  itself,  the  skin  with  its  ceaseless  prickling,  itching,  stretch- 
ing, hotness,  coldness  never  really  leaves  us  alone.  Nor  do  the  muscles  that  pro- 
test by  making  us  fidget  if  they  are  not  moved  frequently  and  then  ache  if 
they  are  exercised  too  long  or  too  hard ;  the  vague  internal  stirrings,  appetites, 
"all  the  nameless  feelings  that  go  coursing  through  our  breast."  Finally,  there 
is  the  mind's  own  place,  eternally  restless,  seeking,  peeking,  poking,  squirm- 
ing, probing.  Quiet  and  silence  is  a  kind  of  death,  from  which  we  fear  we 
may  never  be  able  to  rouse  ourselves. 

The  Role  of  Drugs  in  Altering  Perception :  and  the  Partial  Dependence  of 
Such  Responses  on  Environment  and  Expectation 

Evocation  and  certainly  control  of  these  response  patterns  is  still  largely 
"unscientific."  Experience  and  a  particular  habit  of  mind  are  necessary,  how- 
ever, before  experience  can  be  decocted  into  an  effective  guide  through  these 
mazes.  Fatigue,  hyperexcitement  and  drugs,  by  producing  dissociation,  tend 


262-016  0-67— 2 

both  to  heighten  such  experiences  but  at  the  same  time  to  break  down 
sophisticated  self -awareness. 

The  loss  of  ego  integrity  with  its  capacity  for  reality  testing  leaves  the  self 
wide  and  uncritically  open  to  prior  expectations  and  environmental  influ- 
ences. How  the  drug-induced  perceptual,  kinesthetic  or  other  distortions  will 
be  interpreted  will  therefore  vary  from  culture  to  culture  and  even  from 
individual  to  individual.  Occasionally  the  same  drug  may  induce  profound 
depression,  Dionysian  ecstasy,  terror  or  bland  inditierence.  Yet  if  we  induce 
similar  expectations  and  control  environment,  the  response  is  usually  pre- 
dictable. Duration  is  yet  all  too  short  and  side  effects  still  all  too  great,  but 
we  are  well  along  toward  recognizing  both  the  circumstances  and  the  agents 
which  will  do  what  we  ask  of  them,  by  way  of  temporarily  altering  the 
perceived  universe. 

Society's  Moral  Attitude 

Whether  such  para-universes  lead  to  improA^ed  philosophic  or  psychologic 
insights  is  far  from  clear.  The  use  of  drugs  for  any  thing  other  than  medical 
therapeutic  purposes  has  always  been  construed  as  a  threat — even  when  the 
purpose  was  ostensibly  religious — few  except  the  in-group  would  sanction 
such  use.  Even  at  the  most  simple  level  there  is  confusion ;  "taking  drugs" 
has  an  immoral  connotation  despite  the  fact  that  the  particular  drug  may  be 
life  saving;  there  is  only  disapproval  of  escape  from  intolerable  thoughts, 
feelings  or  situations.  At  times  drugs  serve  to  induce  actions  which  would 
otherwise  not  be  possible;  the  hope  of  ex-static  (i.e.,  out  of  the  status  quo) 
movement  leads  man  to  seize  upon  whatever  is  at  hand  to  trv  to  bring  about 
such  alterations.  "The  desire  to  take  pills"  wrote  Olser,  "is  the  greatest 
feature  which  distinguishes  man  from  the  animals." 

Why  the  Increased  Interest  and  Use  of  Drugs  at  This  Time  and  Place  in 

Here  I  repeat  what  I  have  written  elsewhere : 

To  varying  degrees  each  of  us  mortgages  the  present  for  the  future :  we  tolerate  present 
discomfort  in  expectation  of  eventual  relief  or  even  reward.  Those  parts  of  the  remem- 
bered past  which  make  us  queasy  are  usually  justified  as  contributing  to  some  useful 
purpose  yet  to  be  realized.  In  the  process  we  create  a  cultural  as  well  as  a  personal  his- 
tory involving  the  whence  and  hence  of  existence. 

On  rare  and  glorious  occasions  some  individual  or  group  floods  through  time  with  an 
epic  tide  and  in  sheer  admiration  we  are  all  swept  along.  More  frequently  the  individual 
narrative  thread  is  thin  and  frayed.  In  place  of  the  grand  patterned  fabric  we  see  only 
the  thrums  of  existence.  The  whole  business  becomes  a  drag.  Bugged  by  what  we  trail 
along  and  hung  up  on  what  is  yet  to  come,  we  seek  temporary  or  semipermanent  escapes. 

Today  we  lack  any  viable  universally  accepted  dramatic  plot.  The  success  (not  the  fail- 
ure) of  nineteenth  century  rationalism  has  left  us  at  least  momentarily  without  a 
denouement.  Not  that  those  dated  objectives  of  adequate  food,  housing  and  racial  equal- 
ity for  everyone  have  been  attained  but,  as  in  the  stock  market,  their  achievement 
has  been  "discounted"  since  it  is  obvious  that  within  another  few  hundred  years  they 
will  be  substantially  achieved.  The  sense  of  great  purpose  and  broad  adventure  which 


these  goals  engendered  has  vanished.  Instead  of  singing  down  the  high  road  we  are 
looking  at  our  sore  feet.  It  requires  solid  stupidity,  bland  carelessness  or  extraordinary 
courage  to  disregard  signposts  which  say  "To  Nowhere."  The  road  is  studded  with  squat- 
ters who  block  those  who  would  pass.  The  gatherings  at  the  campflres  are  not  for  coun- 
sels or  imaginative  planning  but  to  titillate  with  pointless  ghost  stories. 

Curiosity  and  action  are  thus  directed  inward.  Drugs  that  help  sever  the  tenuous 
ties  with  the  outside  world  become  highly  prized  since  they  both  assist  and  justify  the 
disregard  for  external  realities.  .  .  . 

In  the  search  for  new  values  to  give  rise  to  a  new  narrative  the  towering,  probing 
mystics  of  the  past  have  sought  to  recapture  the  UR-experience  upon  which  every  Estab- 
lishment originally  drew  strength  until  it  became  formalized.  This  invariably  demanded 
the  shattering  of  the  idols  or  the  escape  from  the  Concept.  Visions,  iconoclasm,  tran- 
scendence took  place  as  the  inevitable  realization  of  a  whole  life's  agon.  Smashing  a  few 
clay  figures  or  experiencing  visual  hallucinations  does  not  produce  an  Abraham  or  a  St. 
Theresa.  Every  great  mystic  has  had  experiences  dissociated  from  the  time  and  culture 
in  which  he  lived — but  the  dissociation  arose  out  of  inner  necessity.  Conversion  in  turn 
is  facilitated  by  the  ecstasy  of  dance,  ritual  death,  drugs.  Dissociation  per  se  has  no 
value  and  can  become  meaningful  only  as  it  is  integrated  into  a  conceptual  framework. 

This  incorporation  can  be  strongly  directed  from  outside.  .  .  . 

The  dissociation  can  also  produce  panic  if  the  attempt  is  made  to  retain  dissolving 
ego  controls.  Once  these  are  surrendered  a  para-infantile  acceptance  of  the  universe 
is  experienced  in  which  there  are  no  clear  ego  boundaries  so  that  the  One-ness  with  the 
All  comes  about.  Whether  this  feeling  (or  any  other)  has  important  value  dei)ends 
entirely  on  how  it  alters  the  organization  and  action  of  the  organism. 

Can  We  Legislate  Control? 

Pharmaceuticals,  like  firearms,  in  themselves  can  be  described  only  by  such 
terms  as  potent  or  precise.  Not  their  effectiveness  but  their  application  deter- 
mines whether  they  are  "^ood"  or  "bad".  We  probably  should  not,  and  in 
any  case  can  not  effectively,  legislate  against  exploration  of  these  other  worlds. 
But  we  must  protect  ourselves  by  knowledge  of  what  to  expect  and  by 
attempting  to  control  who  may  use  these  agents  and  for  what  purposes.  There 
will  obviously  be  wide  differences  of  opinion  on  this  score.  Past  epidemics  of 
opiate  or  of  cocaine  usage  finally  required  legal  restrictions  which  did  serve 
some  useful  purpose.  Attending,  or  reading  the  records  of,  the  present  sessions 
is  an  act  of  affirmation  in  that  they  lead  to  increased  understanding.  We  push 
back  the  darkness  a  bit ;  the  darkness  of  the  mysterious  world  of  drugs  and  the 
equally  dark  and  mysterious  realms  of  self-knowledge  and  self-control. 

In  addition  to  moralizing,  proselytizing,  speculating;  new  legislation  has 
and  will  continue  to  emerge  in  an  attempt  to  influence  the  natural  history 
of  this  uniquely  human  venture  in  which  man  deliberately  alters  his  experi- 
ences of  the  world.  As  to  how  effective  or  desirable  such  legislation  has  been 
or  will  be,  I  can  best  end  with  a  comment  of  Ambrose  Bierce  about  Satan : 

Satan  made  himself  multifariously  objectionable  and  was  finally  expelled  from  Heaven. 
Half  way  in  his  descent  he  paused,  bent  his  head  in  thought  a  moment  and  at  last  went 
back.  "There  is  one  favor  that  I  should  like  to  ask,"  he  said. 

"Name  it." 

"Man,  I  understand,  is  about  to  be  created.  He  will  need  laws." 

"What,  wretch !  You  his  appointed  adversary,  charged  from  the  dawn  of  eternity  with 
hatred  of  his  soul — you  ask  the  right  to  make  his  laws?" 
"Pardon ;  what  I  have  to  ask  is  that  he  be  i)ermitted  to  make  them  himself." 



FROM  Albert  Hofmann,  Ph.  D.,  Pharm.  D.,  H.C. 

Deputy  Director  Sandoz  A.  G., 
Basel,  Switzerland* 

January  19,  1967 

Mr.  Chairman,  dear  Colleagues, 

While  it  is  undoubtedly  possible,  with  the  aid  of  psychoactive  drugs,  to 
span  both  time  and  space,  this  method  of  overcoming  these  factors  is  unfor- 
tunately possible  only  psychically  and  not  physically.  Would  the  latter  be 
possible,  you  may  rest  assured  that  I  would  now  have  taken  the  appropriate 
dosage  of  LSD  or  psilocybin  so  as  to  be  transported  on  the  flying  carpet  to 
San  Francisco,  for  the  purpose  of  participating  in  the  symposium  on  psycho- 
active drugs. 

I  very  much  regret  the  fact  that,  for  reasons  of  company  policy,  it  was 
impossible  for  me  to  actively  participate  in  this  Congress.  It  is  nonetheless 
my  desire  to  convey  from  here  in  Basel,  to  the  numerous  prominent  research 
workers  in  the  field  of  psychoactive  drugs  attending  this  conference,  my  best 
wishes  and  the  expression  of  the  hope  that  the  exchange  of  ideas  will  be 

The  investigations  of  the  lysergic  acid  derivatives,  from  which  LSD 
resulted,  have  continued  uninterruptedly  in  a  variety  of  directions  in  the 
Sandoz  research  laboratories. 

Thus,  for  example,  it  was  possible,  in  pursuing  the  serotonin  antagonistic 
activity  first  observed  in  LSD,  to  develop  new  lysergic  acid  derivatives  in 
which  a  specific  serotonin  antagonistic  activity  is  of  prime  importance.  One 
of  these  highly  active  compounds  has  been  introduced  into  therapy  for  the 
interim  treatment  of  migraine. 

In  a  particular  field  of  research  closely  related  to  the  theme  of  this  congress 
and  initiated  by  the  discovery  of  LSD,  our  investigations  on  psychotomimetic 
drugs  have  been  pursued.  In  using  the  experiences  gained  with  LSD  as  the 
foundation,  the  problem  of  the  so-called  Mexican  magic  mushrooms,  which 
has  been  studied  ethnomycologically  by  Gordon  Wasson  and  botanically  by 
Roger  Heim,  was  solved  from  a  chemical  point  of  view.  The  active  ingre- 
dients, psilocybine  and  psilocine  have  been  synthesised  and  made  available 
for  psychiatric  research.  The  magic  mushrooms  in  turn  led  us  to  a  further 
important  Mexican  magic  drug,  namely  Ololiuqui.  In  the  Ololiuqui  seeds, 
provided  us  by  Wasson,  we  found  the  active  ingredients  to  be  lysergic  acid 
derivatives,  the  main  components  of  which  are  lysergic  acid  amide  and 
lysergic  acid  hydroxyethylamide. 

It  would  have  given  me  great  pleasure  had  I  been  able,  at  this  symposium, 
to  discuss  in  detail  this  most  unusual,  one  can  almost  say  magic  circle  of 
research  which,  starting  from  lysergic  acid  amides,  namely  lysergic  acid 

*Dr.  Hofmann  was  unable  to  attend  this  meeting  and  his  letter  was  read  to  the  audience  by 
Dr.  N.  Kline. 


diethylamide  (LSD),  proceeded  via  two  Mexican  magic  drugs — the  sacred 
mushroom  "Teonanacatl"  and  the  Morning  Glory  seeds  "Ololiuqui"  and  led 
back  to  the  lysergic  acid  amides.  I  sincerely  hope  that  I  shall  be  able  to  satisfy 
this  desire  at  the  next  symposium  on  psychoactive  drugs  in  the  not  too  distant 

In  conclusion  I  should  like  to  express  a  few  general  points  of  view  on 
psychoactive  drugs. 
These  drugs  are  of  especial  importance  in  the  following  three  fields: 

1.  In  neuro-  and  brain-chemistry  they  are  useful  tools  for  the  investiga- 
tion of  biochemical  processes  which  form  the  basis  of  the  nervous  and 
psychic  functions. 

2.  In  psychiatry  they  have  proved  themselves  to  be  compounds  which, 
upon  sensible  administration,  are  becoming  ever  more  important 
medical  aids  in  psychoanalysis  and  psychotherapy. 

3.  From  a  epistemological  point  of  view  we  must  face  the  consequences 
resulting  from  the  fact  that  it  is  possible,  with  the  aid  of  mere  traces 
of  a  compoimd,  to  radically  affect  the  psychic  processes  and  mental 
functions.  This  finding  may  throw  new  light  on  the  age-old  prc^blem 
of  the  relationship  and  interrelationship  of  body  and  soul,  or  more 
generally,  of  mind  and  matter. 

To  a  large  extent  the  non-medical,  partially  legitimate,  partially  illegiti- 
mate, interest  in  and  use  of  hallucinogenics  or  psychedelics  is  as  a  result  of 
the  possibilities  mentioned  under  3  above,  namely  of  attaining  a  profound 
transformation  of  the  conscious  with  the  aid  of  these  drugs. 

It  is  in  fact  this  very  general  interest  in  psychedelics,  which  has  unfortu- 
nately, in  some  cases,  led  to  dangerous  misuse,  that  behooves  scientists  to  con- 
tinue research  in  the  field  of  psychoactive  compounds  in  all  directions  as 
quickly  as  possible,  so  as  to  elucidate  the  possibilities  of  these  potent  drugs  in 
order  that  they  may  be  used  for  the  benefit  of  mankind. 

It  is  my  fervent  wish  that,  in  this  respect  also,  this  congress  will  be 





Chauncey  D.  Leake,  Chairman 


Chairman's  Introduction 

Chauncey  D.  Leake 

Department  of  Pharmacology,  University  of  California 
San  Francisco  Medical  Center,  San  Francisco,  California 

Following  the  example  set  by  Chancellor  Fleming,  I  suppose  I  should 
introduce  myself.  I  am  Chauncey  Leake,  and  I  have  little  idea  exactly  why' 
I  should  be  honored  by  being  asked  to  be  the  Chairman  of  this  first  session. 
I  have  had  some  contact  with  psychoactive  drugs,  largely  through  the  asso- 
ciation with  the  late  Gordon  Alles,  who  died  unfortunately  in  1963  at  the 
age  of  sixty-two.  He  did  a  great  deal  of  the  work  on  the  amphetamines  and 
the  extraordinary  hallucinogenic  agents  that  had  been  developed  in  the 
amphetamines  in  the  old  pharmacological  laboratory  that  we  had  over  here. 

I  did  some  work  on  the  bufotenine,  which,  when  it  is  injected,  is  a  tough 
drug  to  handle.  It  is  difficult  to  get  into  solution.  I  have  reported  on  mush- 
rooms, but  they  were  not  hallucinogenic,  although  it  was  stated  they  did  cause 
peculiar  feeling,  but  this  was  due  to  the  agaric  acid  in  them,  which  has 
a  local  irritant. 

I  am  thrilled  to  see  you  here,  even  in  the  face  of  the  rain.  I  understand 
pharmacologists  are  tough  and  I  think  psychopharmacologists  are  especially 
tough,  they  seem  to  like  this  type  of  weather.  It  has  been  this  way  all  across 
the  country  last  week  where  the  pharmacologists  have  been  meeting. 

Our  session  this  afternoon  is  going  to  be  a  good  one,  and  we  start  appro- 
priately with  a  consideration  of  the  historical  survey  of  the  field  of 
ethnopharmacology  by  Dr.  Bo  Holmstedt. 


Historical  Survey 


Department  of  Toxicology,  Swedish  Medical  Research  Council 
Karolinska  Institutet,  Stockholm,  Sweden 

The  most  fascinating  part  of  ethnopharmacology  is  perhaps  that  dealing 
with  man's  use  of  intoxicating  compounds.  A  few — not  too  many — books 
have  been  written  encompassing  this  subject,  the  most  prominent  being  Louis 
Lewin's  "Fantastica"  (Lewin  1924).^  The  story  of  the  use  of  these  drugs 
is  as  old  as  man  himself.  Many  people  have  for  example  speculated  over 
what  drugs  and  arrow  poisons  are  mentioned  in  the  Iliad  and  the  Odyssey. 
There  is  not  much  need  for  speculation  on  this  matter  since  the  possible 
alternatives  have  been  thoroughly  discussed  in  the  light  of  the  19th  century 
achievement  in  pharmacology  by  two  such  authorities  as  Oswald  Schmiede- 
berg  and  Louis  Lewin.  (Schmiedeberg  1918,  Lewin  1920) .  Likewise,  the  toxic 
substances  used  during  the  middle  ages  and  particularly  during  the  witch 
trials  have  been  much  discussed.  There  is  no  need  to  go  into  this  here. 

This  review  is  supposed  to  cover  ethnopharmacology,  and  there  was  no 
ethnopharmacology  before  there  was  pharmacology.  With  some  exaggera- 
tion it  can  be  said  that  pharmacology  started  during  the  nineteenth  century 
independently  in  three  places.^  One  was  Paris  where  the  work  of  Magendie 
and  his  successors  paved  the  way,  the  second  was  Edinburgh,  where  Sir 
Eobert  Christison  among  other  things  investigated  ordeal  poisons  and  coca, 
and  advocated  the  rapid  withdrawal  in  opium  addiction.  The  third  place 
was  Dorpat,  later  called  Jurjew  and  Tartu,  in  Estonia,  where  pharmacology 
as  an  academic  science  started  around  the  middle  of  the  19th  century.  Of 
particular  interest  to  the  ethnopharmacology  of  psycho-active  agents  are 
Paris  and  Dorpat.  This  review  will  deal  with  some  of  the  men  who  worked 
at  these  places. 

Taking  for  granted  that  no  ethnopharmacology  can  exist  without  true 
pharmacology  it  is  appropriate  to  start  this  review  at  the  beginning  of  the 
19th  century.  At  that  time,  the  knowledge  of  foreign  people,  their  habits, 
food  and  drugs  in  Europe  and  USA  was  generally  speaking  negligible.  A 
spearhead  thrust  into  this  ignorance  was  Napoleon's  ill-fated  adventure  in 

Napoleon  was  a  remarkable  general  in  many  respects,  in  this  specific  case 
because  he  took  with  him  to  Egypt  a  library  and  175  learned  men  who  ob- 
served, wrote  down,  sketched  and  collected  information  about  languages, 

♦This  Investigation  was  supported  by  Grant  MH-12007  from  the  National  Institute  of  Mental 
Health,  U.S.  Public  Health  Service,  Chevy  Chase,  Md. 

^  A  new  print  of  the  original  English  edition  has  recently  appeared  :  Phantastica,  Narcotic  and 
Stimulating  Drugs  ;  Their  Use  and  Abuse,  by  Louis  Lewin,  Routledge  &  Kegan  Paul  Ltd.,  London, 

Those  interested  In  the  history  of  pharmacology  are  referred  to  Readings  in  Pharmacology  by 
Holmstedt  and  Liljestrand,  Pergamon  Press  1963. 


archeology  and  folk  lore.  This  ultimately  resulted  in  the  publication  of  24 
volumes  (Description  de  I'Egypte)  printed  between  1809-1813.  These  books 
stimulated  enormously  the  interest  in  the  Orient  and  led  to  a  series  of  travels 
to  Egypt,  Asia  Minor  and  Africa.  Many  people  published  travel  accounts, 
such  as  the  French  poet  and  statesman  A.  de  Lamartine  (1790-1851),  and 
the  interpreter  of  the  hieroglyphs,  J.  F.  Champollion  (1790-1832).  Cham- 
pollion  made  his  expedition  to  Egypt  1828-1829. 

Of  particular  importance  to  psychopharmacology  is,  however,  the  travel 
in  this  part  of  the  world  of  J.  J.  Moreau  (de  Tours),  a  French  psychiatrist 
whose  work  unfortunately  is  much  forgotten.  Moreau  and  Champollion 
apparently  had  the  same  guide  or  dragoman  as  it  was  called  at  the  time 
(Moreau  1841). 

Moreau  was  the  first  medical  man  to  work  systematically  with  centrally 
acting  compounds.  It  is  therefore  appropriate  to  go  into  some  detail  about 
his  life  and  works. 

Jacques-Joseph  Moreau  {de  Tours)  was  born  at  Montr6sor  (Indre-et  Loire)  June  3, 
1804.  (Baruk  1962  Collet  1962,  Ritti  1887). 

His  father,  a  soldier  in  the  armies  of  the  Republic  and  the  Emperor,  traversed  the 
whole  of  Europe,  taking  part  in  most  of  the  battles  and  was  finally  awarded  the  cross 
of  the  Legion  of  Honour.  He  resigned  only  after  the  battle  of  Waterloo,  and  spent  the 
rest  of  his  life  in  Belgium,  where  he  devoted  all  his  time  to  mathematics,  for  which 
science  he  had  a  great  passion. 

While  the  father  carried  on  this  turbulent  life,  the  son  began  his  studies  of  the  Classics 
at  the  college  of  Chinon,  later  terminating  them  at  the  college  of  Tours.  Thanks  to  pro- 
found and  brilliant  studies  he  passed  with  success  his  matriculation  examination. 

Moreau  then  continued  his  studies  at  the  Medical  School,  where  he  was  characterised 
as :  A  zealous  and  industrious  student  with  a  tremendous  appetite  for  learning.  The 
Medical  School  of  the  public  hospital  of  Tours  at  that  time  was  run  by  one  of  the  most 
famous  medical  men  of  the  period,  Bretonneau.  Moreau  was  fortunate  in  hearing  the 
lectures  of  this  teacher. 

After  a  stay  of  two  years  with  this  master,  Moreau  went  to  Paris  to  complete  his 
studies  and  to  take  his  degree.  We  are  not  aware  of  the  circumstances  around  his  appli- 
cation for  the  position  as  assistant  physician  at  the  Charenton  mental  hospital,  but 
there  is  no  doubt  that  on  July  6,  1826,  the  date  of  his  nomination,  he  found  the  mission 
of  his  life  to  which  he  would  devote  himself  as  profit  for  science. 

At  that  time  the  psychiatrist  Esquirol  had  recently  become  head  of  the  mental  hos- 
pital, and  thanks  to  him  a  number  of  useful  reformations  had  been  introduced  for  the 
benefit  of  the  patient.  Besides  his  great  intelligence  Esquirol  was  no  less  great  as  far 
as  his  character  was  concerned.  The  following  maxim  is  ascribed  to  him  "One  must 
love  the  mentally  ill  in  order  to  be  worthy  and  capable  of  being  of  service  to  him." 

Among  the  various  methods  of  treatment  for  the  mentally  sick — travels — had  been 
prescribed  even  as  far  back  as  ancient  Greece.  Esquirol  had  a  great  number  of  clients — 
people  came  from  all  parts  of  France  and  even  from  abroad  to  consult  him.  Among 
them  were  rich  persons  to  whom  he  could  prescribe  long  travels ;  he  entrusted  them  to 
the  intelligent  care  of  his  young  assistants.  Also  Moreau  was  commissioned  with  such 
a  task,  and  visited  Switzerland  and  Italy  with  a  patient. 

Travel  then  became  a  necessity  for  Moreau.  He  had  nothing  to  keep  him  in  France ; 
he  was  young  and  had  no  desire  to  settle  down.  He  longed  to  see  foreign  countries. 
Esquirol  entrusted  him  with  the  care  of  a  new  patient,  this  time  for  a  very  long  absence : 
An  absence  of  three  years  and  a  journey  to  the  Orient.  To  visit  the  Orient !  What  a 
dream  for  a  young  man !  And  this  at  a  time  when  eyes  were  turned  towards  these  sunny 
countries  from  where  came  since  ten  years  the  most  extraordinary  news.  Each  stage 
of  the  journey  would  lead  him  to  places  where  classic  events  faded  in  comparison  with 


J.  J.  Moreau  (de  Tours)  1804-1884 

the  more  recent  ones.  One  hardly  thought  of  the  Pharaohs  when  setting  foot  on  the  soil 
of  Egypt,  governed  by  the  famous  Mohammed  All.  When  passing  through  Asia  Minor 
interest  was  less  lively  for  the  rapid  campaign  of  Alexander  the  Great  than  for  the 
exploits  of  Ibraham-Pasha  and  his  30,000  Egyptians,  the  victories  of  whom  had  dis- 
turbed the  Sultan's  power. 

The  young  and  enthusiastic  Moreau  wished  to  learn  and  profit  as  much 
as  possible  from  what  he  saw  and  heard,  and  for  this  reason  he  adopted  the 
dress  and  the  customs  of  the  countries  he  passed  through.  He  wrote  down 
what  he  experienced,  and  it  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  he  never  published 
his  observations.  Some  of  them  are,  however,  contained  in  his  medical  books. 

It  is  striking  that  in  the  Orient  the  mentally  ill  appear  to  be  fewer  than 
in  Europe.  Is  this  marked  difference  to  be  explained  by  climate,  race,  or  by 
the  political  and  religious  institutions?  Moreau  adhered  to  the  opinion  of 
Montesquieu,  who  admitted  the  joint  responsibility  of  these  various  causes : 

The  heat  of  the  climate  can  be  so  excessive  that  all  strength  leaves  the  body.  The 
lacli  of  strength  passes  on  to  the  spirit — no  curiosity,  no  noble  sentiments,  no  generous 
feelings  ....  laziness  is  happiness  ....  resignation.  .  .  . 

Immediately  upon  his  return  to  Paris,  Moreau  hastened  to  renew  his  old 
acquaintances  and  acquire  new  ones.  He  met  Esquirol  again  and  his  circle 


of  disciples  among  whom  he  counted  numerous  friends.  The  master  received 
him  with  open  arms :  he  bestowed  on  this  dear  pupil  the  tokens  of  his  aSec- 
tionate  benevolence,  and  eased  for  him  his  first  entry  into  the  medical  career, 
always  difficult  in  Paris. 

During  his  stay  in  the  Orient,  Moreau  had  noted  the  common  use  of 
hashish,  especially  among  the  Arabs.  He  must  also  have  tried  it  himself 
since  in  his  travel  reports  he  writes  rather  lyrically  about  "pleasures  im- 
possible to  interpret"  which  this  "marvellous  substance"  brings  about,  and 
which  "would  be  impossible  to  describe  to  anybody  who  had  not  experienced 
it".  Thanks  to  a  mysterious  legend  and  particularly  to  the  imagination  of 
poets  and  novelists,  only  the  wonderful  effects  of  this  substance  were  known. 
Moreau  wished  to  contrast  poetry  with  observation  and  experience,  and  his 
experimental  research  into  the  psychopharmacological  actions  of  the  extract 
of  Indian  hemp  permitted  him  to  throw  light  on  psychological  phenomena 
which  had  previously  been  obscure.  They  inspired  him  also  with  ingenious 
ideas  on  the  nature  of  insanity. 

Xo  criticism  can  be  made  of  his  investigative  procedures.  Moreau  took 
hashish  himself.  Thanks  to  the  singular  property  of  the  substance  t-o  keep 
intact  "consciousness  and  the  innermost  feeling"  of  the  user,  he  could 
analyze  all  his  impressions  and  in  a  way  be  aware  of  the  disorganization 
of  all  his  mental  faculties.  In  order  to  complete  this  internal  observation 
of  himself,  he  also  commissioned  the  persons  surroundina:  him  to  note 
carefully  his  words,  acts,  gestures  and  the  expression  of  his  face.  The  results 
were  very  characteristic.  They  fully  justified  the  name  of  "fantasia"  which 
the  Oriental  imagination  gives  to  the  intoxication  with  Kief,  one  of  the 
many  names  for  hashish.  Moreau  desired,  moreover,  "controls  with  other 
people."  He  turned  to  his  pupils  and  with  enthusiastic  curiosity  they  lent 
themselves  to  experiments  with  hashish  in  the  most  varying  doses,  giving 
exact  accounts  of  what  they  experienced.  Moreau  observed  with  scrupulous 
care  every  (external)  symptom  during  the  course  of  intoxication.  The  two 
series  were  compared  and  full  conformity  was  proved. 

The  effect  of  the  hashish  reveals  itself  by  a  series  of  intellectual  disturb- 
ances, Moreau  described  all  the  sensations  with  meticulous  care. 

In  1845  Moreau  published  his  extensive  book  of  more  than  400  pages 
entitled  Du  Hachich  et  de  I'alienation  mentale  (Hashish  and  mental  illness) . 
Its  detailed  accounts  of  the  hashish  intoxication  aroused  the  interest  of 
numerous  physicians  and  the  curiosity  of  many  writers,  and  was  followed 
by  a  great  deal  of  personal  experimentation.  Moreau's  book  gave  rise  to 
the  modem  researches  regarding  the  effects  of  hashish,  and  can  also  be  held 
responsible  for  its  use  in  certain  Paris  circles  in  the  middle  of  the  19th 
century.  However,  it  never  became  a  true  epidemic  in  all  parts  of  Europe, 
confining  itself  mainly  to  the  Near  and  Middle  East. 

Such  factors  as  origin,  education  and  environment  as  well  as  the  atmos- 
phere in  which  hashish  is  consumed,  affects  individuals  in  different  ways. 
Due  to  the  great  number  and  varying  nature  of  the  psychic  effects  of  the 
hashish  intoxication,  these  cannot  be  outlined  in  the  same  way  as  the 


physical  effects.  However,  Moreau  enumerated  eight  main  groups  of  symp- 
toms. They  are: 

(1)  General  feeling  of  pleasure. 

(2)  Increased  excitement  combined  with  a  heightening  of  all  senses. 

(3)  Distortion  of  the  dimension  of  space  and  time  (generally  a  mag- 
nification of  the  actual  dimensions :  Minutes  are  changed  into  days 
or  years,  inches  into  feet,  etc.). 

(4)  A  keener  hearing  combined  with  a  great  susceptibility  to  music  and 
the  phenomenon  that  ordinary  noise  is  enjoyed  as  though  it  soimded 

(5)  There  often  arise  persistent  ideas  on  the  verge  of  persecution 

(6)  Disturbances  of  the  emotions,  mostly  in  the  form  of  an  increase 
of  already  existing  feeling. 

(7)  Irresistible  impulses. 

(8)  Illusions  and  hallucinations  of  which  evidently  only  the  first 
named  are  related  to  objects  of  the  exterior  world. 

Moreau  pointed  out  that  psychiatry  could  profit  from  these  experi- 
ments by  comparing  the  symptoms  to  those  in  mentally  ill  people.  The  illu- 
sions produced  by  the  hashish — are  they  not  attacks  of  insanity?  These 
attacks  will  take  on  all  the  characteristics  of  violent  insanity  if  only  the 
dose  of  the  toxic  agent  is  increased.  Moreau  had  the  occasion  of  sadly  ex- 
periencing this.  His  assistant  in  pharmacy  wished  to  see  the  effects  of  the 
Indian  hemp  when  taken  in  a  larger  quantity,  and  swallowed  16  grams  of 
the  extract. 

A  very  intense  delirium  broke  out,  followed  by  agitation,  incoherence  and 
hallucinations  of  all  kinds.  Three  days  passed  before  the  young  man  re- 
gained his  ordinary  calmness  and  the  entire  use  of  his  power  of  reasoning. 
During  the  course  of  the  attack  he  maintained,  however,  some  idea  of 
what  was  happening  to  him. 

Moreau  postulated  that  there  exists  in  insanity  a  primary  factor  which 
is  the  source  of  all  symptoms;  i.e.,  excitation,  which  is  the  primitive  genera- 
tive power.  He  attached  special  importance  to  this  hypothesis,  and  considered 
it  as  equal  to  other  great  scientific  laws.  Moreau  also  compared  insanity  with 
dreams.  The  hypothesis  is  not  new;  it  already  preoccupied  Aristotle.  The 
learned  philosopher  from  Stagira  writes  in  his  books  on  "Dreams"  that  "the 
reason  why  we,  even  awake,  deceive  ourselves  in  certain  illnesses  is  the 
same  which  produces  in  us,  in  our  sleep,  an  impression  of  a  dream."  The 
favorite  formula  of  Moreau  was:  "Insanity  is  the  dream  of  the  man  who 
is  awake." 

Even  though  Moreau  cannot  be  said  to  be  dependent  on  his  countryman 
the  French  materialist  and  medical  man  La  Mettrie  (1709-1751)  who  said: 
"Man  is  what  he  eats",  he  still  considered  a  range  of  causes  for  insanity. 
With  regard  to  the  conception  of  an  organic  origin  he  writes:  "I  am  not 
against  the  conceptions  of  organic  damage  but  I  require  to  see  the  lesion :  I 
only  believe  in  damages  which  are  proven,  not  in  those  that  are  supposed 



ET  I)E 




J.  MOREAl  ^ 

1  I>E    TOURS  )  , 

'liiispiic  di"  Ricctrc.  Mrmlur  *lc  Ih  Sin  irtr 
oi  k-nUiti*  lie  l*;iri.*!. 


I.I  i;  II  \  I  111  j:  Dh;  I'OU  i  i  n.  m  v.sson  i  i  c". 

i'i.Ai:i    i>K  I.  Li;i>i.i,~iii';-Mi:iii.i  1 M  I 

to  exist."'  This  certainly  was  a  veiy  wise  position  to  take.  Even  in  our  days, 
organic  or  biochemical  lesions  in  mental  illness  have  been  difficult  to  prove. 

Moreau  loved  art  in  all  its  forms.  He  gladly  sought  the  company  of 
writere  and  artists.  His  works  on  hashish  had  j)ut  him  in  contact  with  nu- 
merous poets  and  novelists  and  he  was  well  acquainted  with  Balzac,  Grerard 
de  Nerval  and  Theophile  Gautier.  The  author  of  "la  comedie  humaine" 
wrote  him  the  day  after  a  "fantasia"  a'bout  an  idea  that  he  had  had  for 
twenty  years:  "To  make  a  new  brain  in  an  idiot  (with  the  aid  of  hashish) 


in  order  to  see  if  the  mind  could  be  expanded  by  development  of  the  rudi- 
ments." It  has  a  familiar  ring. 

Moreau  passed  away  June  26,  1884,  at  the  age  of  80  after  a  short  illness. 
He  was  undoubtedly  the  first  psychiatrist  with  interest  in  psychopharma- 
cology.  It  seems  that  during  his  life  time  he  was  never  recognized  as  he 
should  have  been.  Among  those  who  did  not  understand  his  qualities  Avas 
regretfully  Frangois  Magendie  (Collet  1962).  On  the  other  hand,  Claude 
Bernard  once  called  hashish  a  psychopharmacological  counterpart  of  cu- 
rare. Up  to  recent  years,  however,  with  regard  to  hashish  people  have 
been  mostly  interested  in  the  literary  feats  of  Theophile  Gautier  and  Charles 
Baudelaire,  and  "Le  Club  des  Haschischins"  with  its  strange  meeting  in  the 
old  hotel  on  He  St.  Louis  in  Paris.  It  is  perhaps  typical  that  a  very  recent 
collection  of  papers  around  the  subject  hashish  only  mentions  Moreau  in 
passing.  (Solomon  Ed.  1966.) 

Unlike  Moreau  Ernst  von  Bihra  (1806-1878),  was  the  prototype  of  a 
wealthy,  private  scientist.  Although  he  acquired  academic  degrees  he  per- 
formed a  good  deal  of  his  research  in  his  own  house. 

Bibra  was  born  in  Unterfranken,  studied  in  Wiirzburg,  where  he  became 
M.D.  and  Ph.  D.  and  later  partly  in  Niirnberg  living  on  his  estate  Schweb- 
heim.  He  was  mostly  interested  in  chemistry,  but  also  was  a  geographer  and 
a  numismatologist  (Giinther  1901).  Of  special  importance  to  this  account 
is  his  trip  to  South  America  1849-1850.  He  was  more  or  less  forced  to 
leave  for  political  reasons,  because  of  his  liberal  attitude  during  the  revo- 
lution in  1848. 

The  most  important  result  of  this  journey — except  for  his  travel  ac- 
count ("Reise  in  Siid-Amerika,  B.  Mannheim,  1854")  which  is  well  worth 
reading — -is  the  book  "Die  narkotischen  Genussmittel  mid  der  Mensch" 
(Niirnberg  1855).  The  book  was  undoubtedly  prompted  by  his  South  Amer- 
ican trip,  and  is  the  first  of  its  kind  to  summarize  the  effect  of  centrally 
acting  compounds,  in  all  seventeen.  He  devotes  chapters  both  to  compounds 
such  as  coffee  and  tea,  and  also  to  Amanita  Muscaria,  opium,  hashish  and 
coca,  the  chewing  of  which  he  had  I'ich  opportunities  to  observe  during  his 
trip  to  South  America.  Due  to  the  fact  that  comparatively  little  was  known 
about  these  drugs  at  the  time,  Bibra's  book  created  quite  a  sensation.  He 
did  not  pursue  this  line  of  research,  but  devoted  the  rest  of  his  life  to  his 
private  hobbies,  such  as  numismatics  and  writing  of  novels. 

There  were  other  people  who  were  to  make  such  compilations  during  the 
nineteenth  century.  One  of  them  was  Georg  Noel  Dragendorff  (1836-1898). 

Dragendorff  was  born  in  Rostock,  Germany,  as  the  son  of  a  medical  man,  studied 
cliemistry  in  Heidelberg  and  learned  thie  trade  of  pharmacy  in  his  home  town  (Hart- 
wich  1897-1898).  His  main  interest  was  chemistry.  The  famous  Witte  pharmacy  in 
his  home  town  soon  expanded  into  a  house  of  medicinal  chemistry  and  Dragendorff 
became  employed  there.  He  heard  lectures  by  Bunsen,  Kirchhoff,  Helmholtz  and  Brlen- 
meyer,  but  it  is  said  that  he  never  had  an  opportunity  to  hear  a  lecture  in  pharma- 
cognosy either  in  Rostock  or  Heidelberg.  The  first  one  he  ever  heard  was  the  one  he 
had  to  give  himself  when  he  had  become  professor  in  Dorpat. 

In  1862  Dragendorff  was  called  to  St.  Petersburg  to  help  organize  the  editing  of  a 
journal  of  pharmacy.  He  learned  to  speak  Russian  and  also  helped  organize  the  pharma- 
cies in  Russia.  From  St.  Petersburg  he  was  called  to  become  professor  of  pharmacy 


262-016  0-67— 3 

and  director  of  the  Pharmaceutical  Institute  of  Dorpat,  18&4.  Dorpat  came  to  be  his 
home  for  30  years,  and  when  he  finally  resigned  his  chair  in  1894  he  returned  to  his 
home  town  of  Rostock,  where  he  organized  a  private  laboratory  and  carried  on  research 
until  his  death. 

Dragendorff's  work  dealt  with  two  things:  one,  relevant  to  the  present 
account,  was  the  chemical  investigation  of  plants;  the  other  was  toxicologi- 
cal  analysis.  He  was  particularly  interested  in  the  medicinal  plants  used 
by  foreign  people,  and  had  acquired  collections  from  far  off  countries  in 
his  institute  at  Dorpat.  His  most  famous  work  and  a  summary  of  his  activi- 
ties in  the  field,  was  published  shortly  after  his  death  and  is  now  a  rare  book : 
"Die  Heilpflanzen  der  verschiedenen  Volker  unci  Zeiten",  1898.^  With  regard 
to  his  chemical  activities  we  only  have  to  point  out  that  he  had  numerous 
pupils  from  many  countries,  and  that  no  reputable  phytochemist  is  unfa- 
miliar with  Dragendorff's  reagent  for  alkaloids. 

Another  German  pharmacist  who  perhaps  accumulated  even  greater 
knowledge  in  one  field  of  ethno-pharmacology  was  Carl  Hartioicli  (1851- 
1917).  (Schroterl9l7.) 

Hartwich  was  born  in  Tangermiinde  where  his  father  had  a  pharmacy,  the  manage- 
ment of  which  the  son  took  over  in  1879.  He  was,  however,  so  interested  in  scientific 
activities  that  he  sold  the  pharmacy  and  moved  to  Braunschweig.  From  there  he  went 
to  Bern  in  order  to  take  his  doctor's  degree  and  then  again  to  Braunschweig  to  become 
university  lecturer  in  pharmacy  and  pharmacognosy.  A  few  weeks  afterwards  (also 
in  Hartwich's  case  before  he  had  given  one  single  lecture)  he  accepted  a  call  to  the 
Swiss  Polytechnical  Institute  in  Ziirich.  He  began  his  service  in  the  autumn  of  1892 
and  stayed  for  24  years,  as  professor  and  head  of  the  Pharmacology  Department. 

Hartwich  published  a  multitude  of  papers  dealing  with  numerous  drugs  and  stimu- 
lants. In  these  studies  the  historical  and  ethnographical  questions  are  strongly  empha- 
sized. Of  a  particularly  historical  interest  is  "Die  Bedeutung  der  Entdeckung  von 
Amerika  f iir  die  Drogenkunde"  ( 1892 ) . 

Hartwich's  most  important  publication,  however,  is  "Die  menschlichen 
Genussmittel",  877  pages  with  24  tables  and  168  pictures  in  the  text  (1911). 
He  worked  on  this  monumental  volume  during  a  decade,  with  considerable 
joy  and  even  with  the  passion  of  a  fanatic  collector.  The  gigantic  quantity 
of  material  is  astounding  and  includes  drawings,  photographs,  observations 
of  his  own,  and  literary  notes  from  the  most  remote  sources.  The  physical, 
historical,  ethnographical  and  commercial  and  ethical  aspects  of  the  com- 
pounds are  treated  with  the  same  love.  The  richly  decorated  book  is  a  true 
gold  mine  of  information  that  was  previously  widely  dispersed. 

In  addition  to  these  voluminous  collections  of  ethno-pharmacological  and 
ethno-botanical  material  there  arose  during  the  second  part  of  the  19th 
century  the  science  of  psychology.  The  pioneers  in  this  field  were  Hennann 
V.  Helmholtz  (1821-1894),  Gustav  Theodm^  Fechner  (1801-1887)  and  Wil- 
helm  M.  W.  Wundt  (1832-1920). 

The  foremost  service  of  W.  Wundt  to  psychology  was  the  introduction 
of  laboratory  investigation.  Before  his  time  experimental  research  in  psy- 
chology had  been  mainly  individual.  He  gathered  around  him  enthusiastic 

^  At  the  time  of  writing  a  reprint  of  the  original  has  been  issued. 

Georg  Dragendorff,  Die  Heilpflanzen  der  verschiedenen  Volker  and  Zeiten,  Neudnick  der  Ausgabe 
Stuttgart  1898.  Antiquariat  Fritsch,  Postach  1043,  79/Ulni/  Do.  Germany. 


students  and  assistants  whom  he  trained  in  the  methods  of  exact  experi- 
mentation. The  first  real  institute  for  psychological  studies  was  erected  by 
Wundt  in  Leipzig  1879  (Kraepelin  1920).  It  consisted  of  two  rooms  and 
some  tables  with  equipment,  some  of  which  was  Wundt's  personal  property. 
No  grant  for  equipment  was  available  and  Kraepelin  tells  how  it  had  to  be 
made  by  hand  from  wood,  tin,  strings  and  cardboard.  They  had,  however, 
accumulators  and  chronoscopes.  In  spite  of  the  obvious  poverty  the  new 
institute  was  filled  with  a  pioneering  spirit  and  enthusiasm. 

Wundt  had  never  had  near  contact  with  psychiatry  or  drug  research  even 
though  he  had  to  do  with  it  now  and  then.  One  of  his  first  pupils  was 
Emil  Kraepelin  (1856-1926). 

Kraepelin  was  born  in  Neu-Strelitz  (Mecklenburg-Strelitz) ,  studied  in  Leipzig  and 
Wiirzlburg  with  the  intention  at  the  very  start  to  become  a  psychiatrist.  He  graduated 
in  1878  and  came  to  the  Munich  Mental  Hospital.  In  1882  he  became,  assistant  of 
Flechsig  in  Leipzig,  but  soon  left  in  order  to  work  in  the  Institute  of  Wundt.  At 
the  start  working  with  experimental  psychology,  he  later  turned  wholly  to  clinical 
psychiatry  which  he  endeavored  to  put  on  a  new  basis  that  brought  world-wide  fame 
to  his  Munich  Olinic. 

Kraepelin  published  the  first  account  on  the  use  of  the  new  psychological  methods 
in  clinical  pharmacology  which  he  undertook  during  his  tenure  of  a  professorship  in 
Dorpat  (188&-1890).  In  that  remarkable  university  at  this  time  worked  also  not  only 
Dragendorff  but  Rudolf  Kobert,  who  held  the  chair  in  pharmacology.  Obviously, 
Kobert  was  the  one  who  interested  Kraepelin  in  applying  his  psychological  tools  to 
the  study  of  drug  effects  in  man  (Jelliffe  1931).  Among  the  drugs  he  studied  were 
morphine  and  alcohol,  and  after  he  had  left  Dorpat  this  resulted  in  the  first  real 
monograph  of  psycho-pharmacology  where  the  new  methods  were  applied :  "Ueber 
die  Beeinfliissung  einfacher  psychischer  Vorgange  durch  einige  Arzneimittel — Jena, 

Kraepelin  maintained  a  lifelong  interest  in  the  pharmacology  of  alcohol.  In  his  hospital 
he  introduced  variously  colored  lemonades  immediately  christened  "Kraepelin  liquors" 
(KoUe  1956). 

Robert's  association  with  the  clinic  of  psychiatry  in  the  meantime  had  resulted  in 
the  publication  of  another  epoch-making  paper,  written  together  with  one  of 
Kraepelin's  co-workers  (Kobert  R.  and  A.  Sohrt:  "Ueber  die  Wirkung  des  salzauren 

Rudolf  Koiert  (1854^1918)  started  his  medical  career  in  Halle  under  Theodor 
Weber  and  spent  many  years  as  assistant  to  Schmiedeberg  before  he  was  called  upon  to 
become  H.  H.  Meyer's  successor  at  the  famous  department  of  pharmacology  in  Dorpat 
(Sieburg  1919).  He  remained  in  Dorpat  until  1897.  The  title  of  his  chair  was  Pharma- 
cology and  Physiological  Chemistry;  he  was  also  a  teacher  in  History  of  Medicine 
and  Pharmacy.  In  1899  Kobert  became  professor  at  the  university  of  Rostock  where 
he  remained  until  his  death. 

From  Kobert's  hand  originate  a  great  many  publications  concerning  pharma- 
codynamics and  toxicology.  He  wrote  a  textbook  in  toxicology  which  has  had  a  con- 
siderable influence  on  many  fields  Including  forensic  medicine.  He  was  one  of  the 
two  great  toxicologists  of  the  nineteenth  century,  the  other  being  Louis  Lewin.  The 
great  learning  and  wide  scope  of  his  interest  is  witnessed  among  other  things  by 
the  issue  during  his  time  in  Dorpat  of  "Historische  Studien  aus  dem  Pharmakologischen 
Institut".  This  work  in  five  volumes  is  an  invaluable  source,  among  other  things  for 
information  to  early  research  of  drugs,  also  to  research  of  drugs  affecting  the  central 
nervous  system. 

The  above  mentioned  paper  by  Kobert  and  Sohrt  is  of  considerable  psycho- 
pharmacological  interest.  For  the  first  time  here,  dissimilarities  and  sim- 


Emil  Kraepelin  1856-1926 


ilarities  between  atropine  and  scopolamine  are  pointed  out,  the  latter  com- 
pound at  this  time  called  hyoscine.  Robert  and  Sohrt  in  their  carefully 
conducted  investigation  demonstrated  the  sedative  action  of  the  latter  com- 
pound. The  experiments  were  made  both  on  animals  and  man,  and  included 
a  series  of  self -experiments.  Robert  writes  the  following: 

.  .  .  During  the  past  autumn  vacation  I  had  the  opportunity  to  arrange  at  the 
Department  of  Psychiatry  in  Dorpat  and  supervise  directly  an  investigation  of  the 
actions  of  a  pharmacological  agent.  This  investigation,  which  lasted  several  months, 
was  undertaken  because  work  on  animals  is  of  value  If  it  is  extended  to  man.  The 
pharmacological  agent  involved  was  hyoscine. 

.  .  .  Mr.  Sohrt,  the  assistant  in  the  Department  of  Psychiatry,  wrote  up  these  experi- 
ments at  my  instigation  for  his  inaugural  thesis.  In  view  of  its  limited  circulation  I 
wish  to  present  here  the  following  account  taken  from  the  thesis: 

.  .  .  Sohrt  gave  himself  at  10.04  p.m.  an  injection  of  0.5  mg  hyoscine  hydrochloride. 
The  pulse  rate  before  injection  was  64  per  minute.  After  a  latent  period  of  10  minutes 
Sohrt  observed  as  the  first  symptom  a  ptosis  which  made  it  diflScult  for  him  to  keep 
his  eyes  open.  Gradually  a  feeling  of  heaviness  mthout  headache  occurred.  His  head 
tended  to  drop  to  his  shoulders  and  it  became  diflScult  to  keep  the  head  upright.  His 
limbs  felt  as  if  they  were  lumps  of  lead  attached  to  the  body.  There  was  a  marked 

Throughout  this  period  S.  was  fully  conscious  and  able  to  give  an  account  of 
everything  and  to  answer  questions  speedily.  He  was  able  to  read  his  own  writing 
without  much  difficulty  and  did  not  feel  sick.  At  11.25  p.m.  he  stood  up,  but  his  walk 
was  unsteady.  He  went  to  bed,  therefore,  and  at  once  fell  asleep.  He  had  a  quiet 
sleep  without  dreams.  On  the  following  morning  S.  woke  up  at  9  a.m.,  instead  of  at 
5  or  6  a.m.,  which  was  his  usual  time.  His  head  felt  slightly  numb,  but  this  symptom 
disapi)eared  after  breakfast. 

These  experiments  show  that  hyoscine,  0.5  to  1  mg,  given  subcutaneously,  produces 
in  healthy  man  dryness  of  the  mouth,  dilation  of  the  pupils,  marked  sleepiness  and 
tiredness,  but  is  devoid  of  other  special  actions. 

...  In  nearly  all  those  cases  of  illness  which  are  associated  with  a  state  of 
excitation  hyoscine  produced  sleep  promptly  or  at  the  very  least  induced  sedation, 
even  when  all  other  drugs  used  for  this  purpose  failed  to  produce  an  effect. 

By  far  the  most  interesting  personality  of  all  psychopharmacologists  of 
this  time  Avas  Louis  Lewin  (1850-1929) . 

Lewin  was  born  in  the  small  town  of  Tuchel  in  Western  Prussia.  In  1854  he  came 
to  Berlin  where  he  remained  more  or  less  until  the  end  of  his  life.  He  graduated  from 
the  University  of  Berlin.  In  1875  as  an  M.D.,  he  studied  for  a  while  with  Pettenkofer  and 
Voit  in  Munich,  and  became  "Privatdozent"  in  pharmacology  in  Berlin  in  1881.  In  1894 
he  became  titular  professor  at  the  University  of  Berlin  but  held  no  full  academic  posi- 
tion. Only  as  late  as  1919  did  he  become  permanent  honorary  professor  at  the  Technical 
Academy.  There  has  been  much  speculation  about  the  reasons  why  Lewin  did  not  ad- 
vance academically  in  pharmacology  and  toxicology,  and  it  has  been  said  that  he  could 
have  become  head  of  the  greatest  pharmacology  department  in  Germany  had  he  re- 
nounced his  Jewish  faith  and  consented  to  become  baptized.  Whatever  truth  there  may 
be  in  this,  he  established  his  own  private  laboratory  and  lecture  hall  in  No.  3  Ziegel- 
strasse  in  an  old  tenement  house  in  the  centre  of  the  medical  district  of  Berlin.  He 
preferred  to  teach  and  to  do  his  research  with  his  own  means  in  these  surroundings. 
Financially,  he  was  partly  enabled  to  do  so  through  the  fact  that  although  he  had  no 
official  position,  the  courts  preferred  him  to  all  other  experts  in  Germany  in  toxicology 
and  industrial  hygiene. 

Lewin's  way  of  lecturing  was  extraordinary  and  held  the  audiences  spellbound.  It 
has  been  said  that  he  expounded  facts  with  a  contagious  enthusiasm  and  performed  his 


Ueber  die  Beeinflnssimg 
einfacher  psychischer  VorgaBge 

durcli  einige  Arzneimittel. 

Experimentelle  Untersuehungen 


Dr.  Emil  Kraepelin, 

ProfeeBor  der  Pa  v  c- b  i  a  t  r  i  c  in  fl  e  i  d  e  1  ber  g. 

Mit  einer  ('Urventafel. 


Verlag  von  Gustav  Fischer. 

experiments  with  loving  care.  Any  narrow  specialization  was  foreign  to  him.  He  could 
quote  flawlessly  in  foreign  languages,  and  marshal  facts  from  all  four  corners  of  the 
world  and  all  periods  of  history.  Classical  and  contemporary  authors  were  all  familiar 
to  him.  Many  famous  men  who  visited  his  lectures  were  deeply  influenced  by  him.  Among 
them  was  J.  J.  Abel  who  has  been  called  the  father  of  American  pharmacology.  Lewin's 
outstanding  wide  general  knowledge  meant  that  he  had  many  friends  among  scholars 
in  other  faculties. 


Among  Lewin's  personal  acquaintances  were  the  explorer  Georg  Schweinfurth,  and 
Albert  Einstein.  In  history,  geography  and  anthropology  his  knowledge  was  enormous ; 
he  showed  special  interest  in  travel  and  topography.  It  is  said  that  scarcely  a  travel 
book  of  importance  was  unknown  to  him.  His  own  travelling  included  visits,  among 
other  places,  to  the  United  States,  Switzerland  and  Italy. 

When  surveying  Lewin's  works  one  is  greatly  helped  by  a  list  he  compiled  himself 
before  his  death.  The  list  includes  248  major  publications  in  the  years  1874-1929.  From 
the  list  are  excluded  book  reviews,  printed  discussions  and  other  minor  communications 
of  his  which  were  also  numerous.  Among  the  publications  there  are  about  a  dozen  books 
and  monographs.  Lewin  himself  claimed  that  by  1880  he  had  already  decided  to  devote 
most  of  his  time  to  the  side  effects  of  drugs. 

Lewin's  first  major  work,  in  1881,  "Nebenwirkungen  der  Arzneimittel",  Pharmakolo- 
gisch-klin.  Handbuch  (Berlin,  A.  Hirschwald),  dealt  with  this  topic  and  became  a  classic 
and  the  first  of  its  kind.  This  book  had  two  more  editions  and  was  translated  into  three 
languages,  including  English.  Notable  among  the  other  books  are  his  outstanding  text- 
book in  toxicology,  a  summary  of  all  available  knowledge  of  arrow  poisons,  two  volumes 
on  the  effects  of  drugs  on  the  eye,  and  another  work  in  which  he  gives  the  world's  his- 
tory as  seen  by  a  toxicologist,  "Die  Gifte  in  der  Weltgeschichte"  (J.  Springer,  Berlin 
1920) . 

It  is  not  possible  here  to  summarize  all  the  fields  of  interest  to  which  Lewin 
made  original  contributions,  but  it  is  appropriate  to  dwell  on  his  activities  in 
psychopharmacology,  a  topic  in  which  he  published  some  20  articles.  His 
own  contributions  to  the  field  occurred  mostly  in  the  1880's.  Then  he  more 
or  less  left  this  field,  but  in  1924  summarized  admirably  his  own  work  and 
those  of  others  in  the  first  edition  of  his  book  "Phantastica".  The  long  delay 
certainly  did  not  mean  that  he  remained  unfamiliar  with  the  progress  in 
the  field;  on  the  contrary,  the  books  show  that  he  kept  up  to  date  with  all 
achievements  made. 

Lewin's  first  publication,  in  1874,  was  a  study  of  chronic  morphinism, 
which  he  was  one  of  the  first  to  investigate  scientifically.  In  1886  there  ap- 
peared his  monograph  on  Piper  methysticum  (Kawa  Kawa)  :  "Ueber  Piper 
raethysticum  (Kawa)."  (Monographie.  Berlin.  A.  Hirschwald).  This  is  a 
very  comprehensive  review  of  all  aspects  of  the  use  of  Piper  methysticvsm  and 
current  research  on  its  constituents  and  their  chemistry,  pharmacology  and 
clinical  effects.  This  admirable  monograph  is  now  understandably  much  out 
of  date  in  its  chemistry  and  pharmacology,  but  it  was  a  pioneering  work, 
and  the  period  following  its  appearance  saw  the  first  real  progress  being 
made  in  the  chemistry  of  kaava.  In  1889  appeared  another  similar  mono- 
graph: "Ueber  Areca  Catechu,  Chavica  Betle  und  das  Betelkauen."  (Mono- 
graphie. Stuttgart.  F.  Enke)  an  equally  comprehensive  review. 

Before  that,  however,  Lewin  had  had  occasion  to  get  into  polemics  with 
Sigmund  Freud  about  coca  and  cocaine.  This  strange  episode  in  the  history 
of  science  runs  as  follows : 

A  century  ago  the  height  of  nationalistic  pride  was  to  have  a  man-of-war 
circumnavigate  the  globe.  Austria,  a  sea  power  in  those  days,  planned  to 
send  the  Novara  on  such  a  trip.  Prof.  Wohler  of  Gottingen  just  before  de- 
parture requested  the  naturalists  on  the  expedition  to  bring  him  back  a  suffi- 
cient quantity  of  coca  leaves  to  carry  out  a  thorough  investigation.  Dr. 
Scherzer,  one  of  the  scientists,  did  manage  to  get  some  30  lbs.  of  leaves  to 


Louis  Lewin  (1850-1929).  Picture  taken  about  the  time  of  his  trip  to  the  United  States. 


Prof.  Wohler.  His  assistant,  Niemann,  succeeded  in  isolating  an  unusual 
crystalline  organic  base. 

The  first  description  of  cocaine  occurs  in  Tagesber.  allgem.  med.  Zentral- 
Zeitung,  25  April  1860,  p.  262-263.  It  is  noted  that,  "It  would  seem  that  Coca 
will  be  of  great  use  to  the  medicine  of  the  future.  ...  It  has  the  remarkable 
action  on  the  nerves  of  the  tongue  that  after  a  few  moments  the  place  of 
contact  becomes  anaesthetized  and  almost  insensitive".  In  1859  Paolo  Man- 
tegazza's  description  of  the  therapeutic  versatility  of  coca  aroused  much  in- 
terest but  little  confidence,  although  subsequently  his  reports  have  been  largely 
verified.  However,  early  investigations  in  Austria,  Germany  and  England 
were  largely  negative  in  their  findings,  and  by  the  1870s  there  was  general 

A  military  surgeon,  Aschenbrandt,  in  1883  claimed  a  remarkable  effect 
of  cocaine  upon  Bavarian  soldiers  enabling  them  to  better  endure  hunger, 
strain,  fatigue  and  heavy  burdens.  He  anticipated  a  demand  of  today's  purists 
in  experimental  design  by  adding  the  cocaine  to  the  drinking  water  and  not 
telling  the  soldiers.  Unfortunately  the  use  of  control  subjects  was  overlooked 
and  Aschenbrandt  was  anything  but  unbiased.  Palmer  (1880)  in  the  Louis- 
ville Medical  News,  and  Bentley  in  the  Detroit  Therapeutic  Gazette  (1880) , 
had  described  the  use  of  coca  in  the  treatment  of  morphinism.  The  Louisville 
Medical  News  said  in  its  editorial  comment  "one  feels  like  trying  coca  with 
or  without  the  opium  habit.  A  harmless  remedy  for  the  blues  is  imperial." 

In  1884  Sigmund  Freud  wrote  to  his  fiancee  that  he  had  been  experimenting 
with  "a  magical  drug".  After  dazzling  success  in  treatment  of  a  case  of  gas- 
tric catarrh  he  continues  "If  it  goes  well  I  will  write  an  essay  on  it  and  I 
expect  it  will  win  its  place  in  therapeutics  by  the  side  of  morphium,  and 
superior  to  it.  ...  I  take  very  small  does  of  it  regularly  against  depression 
and  against  indigestion,  and  with  ,  the  most  brilliant  success."  He  urged  his 
fiancee,  his  sisters,  his  colleagues,  and  his  friends  to  try  it  (Jones  1956) .  That 
same  year  he  published  an  article  "Uber  Coca"  which  among  other  virtues 
extolled  the  drug  as  a  safe  exliilarant  which  he  himself  used  and  recom- 
mended as  a  treatment  for  morphine  addiction.  For  emphasis  he  stated,  in 
italics,  that  "Inebriate  asylums  can  be  entirely  dispensed  with"  and  a  cure 
effected  in  10  days.  That  same  fateful  year  he  used  it  -for  this  purpose  in 
treating  his  close  friend,  Ernst  Fleischl.  For  a  while  the  treatment  succeeded 
but  increasingly  larger  doses  were  needed.  Freud  spent  one  frightful  night 
nursing  Fleischl  through  an  episode  of  cocaine  psychosis  and  thereafter  was 
bitterly  against  drugs,  rarely  permitting  them  even  for  himself  during  op- 
erations for  the  painful  carcinoma  of  the  jaw  which  finally  killed  him. 

Freud's  paper  on  Coca  Avas  subjected  to  a  severe  criticism  by  Louis  Lewin 
(1885).  Among  other  things,  he  said: 

I  want  to  state  explicitly  that  according  to  all  available  evidence  coca  is  no  substitute 
for  morphine  and  that  a  morphine  addiction  cannot  be  cured  by  the  use  of  coca.  .  .  . 

I  am  convinced  that  coca  cannot  be  a  substitute  for  morphine  for  any  length  of  time 
since  the  real  morphine  addict  wants  the  specific  morphine  effect  and  since  he  can  very 
well  distinguish  the  euphoria  of  other  substances.  Such  an  exchange  does  not  suit  his 







Dr.  L.  Lewin, 

Decent  der  t'lLarin:iLologie  in   dcr  Uiiiveriitit  Berlin. 

Mit  1  litbograpliiiten  Tafel. 

Berlin  1886. 

Verlag  von  August  Hirschwald. 

N\V.  Uoler  dru  Linden  68. 

special  needs.  The  morphinist  wants  more  than  the  euphoria  which  can  be  brought  about 
in  normal  man  and  which  Freud  experienced  himself  when  taking  0.05-0.1  gr.  cocaine 

However,  even  if  it  were  possible  to  treat  a  morphine  addict  for  a  time  exclusively 
with  cocaine  and  even  if  he  were  given  very  large  doses  producing  hallucinations  and 
a  pleasant  sopor,  there  would  very  likely  occur  a  case  of  what  I  would  like  to  call  double 
addiction.  The  man  in  question  would  use  cocaine  in  addition  to  morphine  in  the  same 
way  as  many  morphine  addicts  use  chloroform,  chloralhydrate,  ether,  etc. 


Lewin's  clear  perception  of  tliis  question  was  corroborated  by  A.  Erlen- 
meyer  slightly  afterwards,  and  also  by  others.  Lewin  never  understood  Sig- 
mund  Freud,  especially  not  his  psychoanalytical  works,  and  used  to  refer 
to  him  as  "Joseph  der  Traumdeuter"  ("Joseph,  the  dream  interpreter"). 

In  1887  Lewin  made  a  cross  coimtry  trip  in  the  US  and  Canada.  According^ 
to  some  lines  in  his  travel  accomat  he  had  thought  about  emigration.  He 
traveled  together  with  one  Mr.  Jolm  Warburg  whom  he  called  uncle.  His  wife 
had  grown  up  in  the  Warburg  family  in  Hamburg.  Other  members  of  this 
family  were  famous  botanists.  Lewin's  trip  across  the  country  resulted  in  a 
hand-written  manuscript  of  more  than  300  pages  Avith  numerous  photos, 
illustrations  and  cuttings  glued  into  it.  It  is  a  family  property  never  printed 
and  not  intended  to  be.*  It  was  written  as  a  gift  to  his  wife  and  given  to  her 
upon  his  return  to  Berlin.  The  manuscript  is  a  treasure  of  wealth  of  informa- 
tion about  the  US  about  1880.  Lewin's  itinerary  took  him  also  into  Canada, 
to  the  big  lakes,  to  San  Francisco,  Detroit,  Washington  and  back  His  deter- 
mined way  of  travelling  is  well  borne  out  in  what  he  says  about  his  stay  in 
San  Francisco: 

My  main  purpose  in  visiting  San  Francisco  had  been  to  see  for  myself  "Chinatown", 
as  the  Chinese  quarter  is  called,  and  esi)ecially  the  smoking  of  opium.  In  our  hotel  we 
asked  for  a  guide.  It  appeared  that  we  could  get  one  for  10  dollars — 40  mark.  What 
an  insolent  overcharge !  We  asked  in  a  ticket-oflSce — the  same  charge,  hut  with  a  reduc- 
tion to  half  the  price  for  a  guided  tour  in  the  daytime.  But  during  the  day  there  Is 
nothing  to  see  there  and  everybody  can  then  walk  through  the  quarter  and  the  shops. 
I  decided  to  show  those  swindling  yankees  that  we  were  able  to  find  the  right  way  by 
ourselves.  We  asked  a  policeman  what  to  do  to  get  a  policeman  as  guide.  He  directed  us 
to  the  main  police-station.  There  I  explained  my  request  after  having  shown  my  card. 
When  the  captain  began  long  deliberations  with  someone  else  I  showed  him  the  legitima- 
tion I  had  received  from  Washington.  This  proved  effective.  We  were  to  meet  our  police- 
guide  at  9  o'clock  in  the  evening  at  the  station.  We  told  this  to  Mr.  H.  who  wanted  to  see 
Chinatown  too.  Strange  to  say — the  better  society  of  San  Francisco  does  not  know  it. 
On  the  way  we  passed  the  stock-exchange  and  went  in.  After  a  few  paces  we  meet  the 
strapping  policeman,  our  companion  for  the  excursion.  After  a  short  time  we  arrived. 
How  many  different  impressions  do  I  bring  home  from  this  visit !  From  the  moment  we 
entered  this  quarter  in  which  approximately  30,000  Chinese  live  till  we  left  it,  an 
unpleasant  odour  did  not  leave  us.  It  is  impossible  to  describe  it,  it  is  so  repugnant 
that  even  uncle  was,  at  the  beginning,  somewhat  repelled  and  disgusted.  The  streets 
were  repulsively  dirty  and  filthy.  People  throw  everything  in  the  streets  to  let  it  rot 
there.  It  is  impossible  to  use  the  so-called  sidewalks,  partly  because  they  are  full  of 
baskets  and  boxes,  partly  because  there  yawn  everywhere  cellar-holes  one  might  easily 
fall  into.  I  had  to  roll  up  my  trousers.  What  a  contrast  to  this  filth,  when  we  entered  the 
first  shop,  a  barber-shop!  There  two  Chinese  were  sitting,  under  the  hands  of  the 
barbers.  They  had  just  finished  shaving  the  hair  from  the  forehead  to  the  top,  and  were 
occupied  in  tidying  the  ears  and  the  noses  of  their  clients  with  very  small  knives — not 
wider  than  a  straw — and  very  fine  sponges  with  handles.  The  barbers  removed  all  hair 
and  other  substances.  On  the  other  side  of  the  street  there  was  a  food-shop. 

The  streets  are  dark,  lighted  only  by  the  shops  and  by  candles  burning  in  the  street 
in  front  of  the  houses.  Every  few  paces  6-8  wax-candles  are  stuck  into  the  ground. 
These  candles  bum  down  very  quickly,  but  their  long  stem  consists  of  incense,  so  that 
there  are  hundreds  of  incense-candles  fuming  in  the  streets.  Asia  in  America !  What  a 
contrast  of  customs  and  habits !  But  that  was  not  yet  the  worst  by  far.  We  entered  a 

*  The  author  wishes  to  express  his  gratitude  to  Mrs.  Irene  Sachs,  N.Y.,  for  permission  to  publish 
part  of  the  travel  account  and  to  Mrs.  Hertha  Jaff€  and  Mr.  Mordechai  YafE4,  Israel,  for  help  with 
the  translation. 


...  -JS-i- 

L',-'":::!..  ^...  ^^j-  ^ 

....  „..^„ 




!  — 

^  rr: 

^^""-jf-*. ^  .j-.t^  .c^  —t/^  , 

„W.   -Z-i^.^  vOy^w  <,-^f..^i,   -.^■...-y..-,,  .•..-..y- 


Pages  from  Louis  Lewin's  travel  account  related  to  visit  to  Chinatown  in  San  Francisco. 

pitch-dark  house — or  so  it  appeared  to  us  as  we  went  in,  for  we  had  to  light  up  the 
entrance  with  matches.  By  and  by  we  could  see  some  light  in  the  passage  we  were 
standing  in.  We  were  in  the  only  house  built  in  Chinese  fashion.  I  am  not  expert 
enough  to  describe  it  to  you  as  it  really  is  or  to  make  a  drawing  of  it.  Perhaps  you  will 
get  some  idea?  I  sketch  it  as  follows.  As  far  as  I  could  see  there  are  2-3  such  stories, 
a  cellar-story,  the  groundfloor  and  one  above.  I  might  be  mistaken  as  to  dimensions  and 
numbers  of  rooms  but  the  arrangement  in  the  plan  is  correct.  I  sketched  it  from 
memory  while  travelling  through  the  State  of  Colorado.  I  must  explain  the  broad  dark 
areas.  These  are  apertures  leading  to  the  cellar.  There  are  corresponding  apertures  in 
the  first  story,  I  think  for  illumination.  If  I  remember  right,  there  is  a  banister  on 
one  side. 

We  lighted  our  way  down  the  stairs  leading  to  the  courtyard  and  to  the  cellar-story. 
Darkness  enveloped  us.  Our  guide  opened  a  door  with  a  glass-window — all  the  doors  have 
a  window  like  this — through  which  a  faint  light  was  glimmering.  What  we  could  see  was 
interesting  to  me,  but  in  general  an  unpleasant  view.  In  a  small  room,  less  than  two  arm- 
lengths  long  and  wide,  we  saw  plank-beds  all  around  leaving  only  very  little  free  space 
in  the  center  of  the  room.  On  one  of  these  I  discovered  a  crouching  figure  holding  an 
opium  pipe  and  inhaling  deeply  the  pernicious  fume.  Before  bim  burned  the  small  oil- 
lamp  for  the  preparation  of  the  opium-pill.  Such  a  pill,  even  a  bigger  one,  is,  as  I  saw, 
enough  for  2-3  draughts,  seldom  four.  The  extract  of  opium  has  an  almost  honeylike 
consistence.  With  a  very  fine  metal-spatula — I  have  a  similar  one — he  takes  a  small 
amount  of  the  extract  and  puts  it  somewhere  at  the  clay-top  of  his  pipe.  He  then  again 
takes  the  opium  up,  this  time  with  the  needle-like  other  end  of  the  spatula,  passes  it 
lightly  through  the  flame  to  condense  it  and  make  it  more  malleable  and  tries  by  turning 
the  needle  round  and  round  to  give  the  opium  pill  a  cylindrical  form.  After  passing  the 
material  another  two  or  three  times  through  the  flame  the  desired  form  is  achieved.  He 
sticks  the  needle  into  the  aperture  of  the  pipebowl  and,  while  drawing  it  back,  he 
presses  the  small  cylinder  of  opium  into  the  aperture  of  the  bowl  with  his  index-finger. 


Now  he  puts  his  mouth  to  the  pipe-stem  and  sucks  deeply,  deeply,  while  letting  the 
opium-cylinder  evaporate  near  the  lamp — it  looks  for  all  the  world  like  a  thirsty  man 
putting  his  pint-glass  to  his  lips  and  emptying  it  in  deep  endless  draughts.  After  approxi- 
mately half  a  minute  he  exhales  the  fumes  which  in  the  meantime  have  been  partly 
absorbed  through  the  mucous  membranes  of  the  lungs.  This  same  procedure  occurs 
6,  8,  10  times  and  even  more  until  the  gratification  of  the  opium-visions  provide  the 
compensation  for  the  troublesome  preparations.  He  feels  himself  transplanted  from  his 
wretched  surroundings.  He  sees  palaces,  riches,  opulent  repasts,  splendid  garments, 
beautiful  amorous  women  and  perhaps  oflScies,  titles  and  decorations  descending  upon 
him.  In  the  morning  he  awakes — on  a  straw-mat  or  a  heap  of  rags  in  a  lightless  hole 
filled  with  pestilential  air.  Again  he  trudges  by  daylight  to  the  hole  where  he  lives.  Who 
can  blame  this  human  being — with  his  low  grade  of  education,  deprived  of  moral  sup- 
port— if  he  returns  again  and  again  to  the  pleasurable  world  of  the  opium-vision  at 

Again  we  enter  a  house,  going  along  what  seem  still  narrower  passages.  You  feel  your 
heart  beating  at  the  thought  of  a  sudden  conflagration.  Not  the  most  precipitous  point  of 
the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway  gave  me  so  much  fright :  The  feeling  of  being  shut-in  in 
these  i)assages  nearly  choked  me ! 

Lewin  also  managed  during  the  same  trip  to  visit  the  stockmarket,  Chinese 
restaurants  and  theatres,  the  house  of  the  Salvation  army,  and  another  house 
from  which  he  fled  in  Victorian  dismay. 

However  interested  Lewin  may  have  been  in  San  Francisco's  China  Town 
and  the  smoking  of  opium,  the  city  he  really  longed  to  visit  was  Detroit.  He 
arrived  there  on  September  16,  1887: 

My  first  errand  was,  of  course,  a  visit  to  Parke  Davis.  We  drove  along  a  splendid  wide 
avenue  bordered  by  residences  with  beautiful  gardens.  Soon  we  were  marvelling  at  a 
grand  extensive  building  adorned  with  sand-stone.  This  building  which  belongs  to  the 
company,  is  not  yet  fully  finished.  We  enter  the  oflBce  where  there  work  well  over  fifty 
book-keepers,  male  and  female,  cashiers,  clerks,  stenographers  etc.  Mr.  Wetzell  showed 
us  round  the  factory  and  the  printing-shop — I  had  not  expected  such  a  magnitude  and 
such  a  skilled  exactitude  of  workmanship.  It  is  impossible  to  enumerate  all  particulars 
to  you.  Summing  up,  I  can  only  tell  you  that  the  different  departments  are  exemplary, 
from  the  preparation  of  juices  and  extract,  the  extraction  of  drugs,  bottling,  labeling, 
the  homogenization  of  plants  to  the  manufacture  of  pilular  mass,  sugaring  and  coating 
of  piUs  etc.,  etc.  ...  In  short,  the  manufacture  of  pharmaceutical  preparations  is  worthy 
of  the  American  genius  for  machinery  and  for  exactitude  and  cleanliness  of  use.  What- 
ever I  received — preparations  drugs  etc. — you  will  see  for  yourself  when  everything 
arrives  in  Berlin. 

Among  these  things  he  carried  back  with  him  to  Berlin  from  Parke  Davis 
Co.  was  Peyotl,  the  "Mescal  buttons".  We  know  this  exactly  because  he  has 
stated  himself  that  he  got  it  from  the  Parke  Davis  and  Co.  during  his  Ameri- 
can trip.  He  was  not  long  in  investigating  its  properties  and  there  appeared 
in  Schmiedeberg's  archives  and  the  Detroit  Therapeutic  Gazette  the  first  ac- 
counts of  the  pharmacologic  properties  of  Peyotl  (Lewin  1888).  He  says  in 
his  summary: 

It  has  toeen  proven  for  the  first  time  that  a  cactus  can  possess  an  extraordinarily  high 
toxicity.  It  will  now  be  appropriate  to  elucidate  the  chemistry  of  this  Anhalonium  and 
then  go  further  with  the  investigation  of  other  species  of  Anhalonium.  One  must,  how- 
ever, also  investigate  to  what  purpose  and  to  what  extent  these  Muscal  huttons  (Sic I) 
are  used  as  stimulants.  In  a  not  too  distant  future  I  hope  to  be  able  to  give  evidence 
ahout  this. 


For  some  reason  he  never  did,  although,  he  wrote  in  1894  a  second  long 
article  on  what  was  then  called  "Anhalonium  Lewinii  and  other  cactea" 
(Lewin  1894).  By  then,  however,  Arthur  Heffter  had  already  started  his 
work  on  the  active  principles  in  the  mescaline  cactus. 

ArtJmr  Heffter  (1860-1925)  was  bom  in  Leipzig  and  representative  of  the 
old  German  school  of  pharmacologists  with  a  thorough  chemical  backgromad 
and  a  medical  training.  (Straub  1921,  Heubner  1925,  Joachimoglu  1960) .  He 
worked  for  some  years  in  agricultural  chemistry  and  then  switched  to  study 
medicine  in  Leipzig,  at  the  same  time  working  in  the  laboratory  of  K.  Bohm. 
His  habilitation  took  place  in  1892,  after  which  he  for  some  time  worked 
under  Schmiedeberg  in  Strassburg.  Later  he  held  positions  in  various  uni- 
versities, Leipzig,  Bern,  Marburg,  and  finally  in  1908  became  Liebreich's 
successor  at  the  department  of  pharmacology,  University  of  Berlin,  where 
he  held  the  chair  until  liis  death. 

Heffter 's  research  activities  covered  a  wide  scope  of  topics.  As  lecturer  he 
was,  however,  to  say  the  least,  mediocre. 

Lewin  did  not  like  Heffter  and  Heffter  did  not  like  him.  They  had  very  different 
opinions  on  many  things — this  concerned  particularly  Anhalonium  Lewinii  (Peyotl)  on 
which  Heffter  also  had  done  work.  It  was  a  priority  comi)etition  hetween  the  two.  I 
don't  remember  it  exactly,  but  I  have  the  feeling  that  it  was  something  of  the  sort.  Lewin 
was  more  the  artist  and  interested  in  the  social  implications  of  these  substances. 
Heffter  was  not  very  verbal,  awkward,  frankly  in  the  presentation  of  his  material.  On 
the  other  hand,  here  was  this  tremendously  stimulating,  flamboyant  orator  Lewin  who 
carried  away  his  audience  with  his  enthusiasm.  The  atmosphere  fused  into  the  most 
extraordinary  experience  every  time  we  went  to  that  place  to  listen  to  his  lecture,  and 
you  did  that  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  you  didn't  have  to — it  was  enough  had  you  followed 
only  Heffter's  lectures.  I  went  to  Heffter's  lectures,  of  course,  and  I  was  bored.  Lewin 
lectured  the  first  time  and  I  was  captured — I  went  there  every  time.  (Krayer  1963) . 

Heffter  proceeded  systematically  to  find  the  psychoactive  principle  in 
Peyotl  by  working  it  up  into  chemical  fractions  and  testing  these  on  himself 
in  heroic  self  experiments,  much  the  same  way  as  Albert  Hofmami  later  did 
with  psilocybine.  It  is  psycho-pharmacologically  interesting  to  see  what  kind 
of  wonderful  visions  an  obviously  dry  man  like  Heffter  got  out  of  mescaline. 
Here  is  his  account  of  the  first  experiment  carried  out  with  pure  mescaline  in 
man,  in  1897 : 

Violet  and  green  spots  appear  on  the  paper  during  reading.  When  the  eyes  are  kept 
shut  the  following  visions  occur.  At  first  there  are  violet  and  green  spots  which  are  not 
well  defined,  then  come  visions  of  carpet  patterns,  ribbed  vaulting,  etc.  From  time  to 
time  single  dots  with  the  most  brilliant  colours  float  across  the  field  of  vision.  The 
phenomena  are  generally  not  as  clear  as  those  in  the  two  preceding  exi)eriments.  Later 
on  landscapes,  halls,  achitectural  scenes  (e.g.  pillars  decorated  with  flowers)  also  appear. 
The  visions  can  be  observed  until  about  5 :30  p.m.  Nausea  and  dizziness  are  at  times  very 
distressing.  The  appreciation  of  time  is  reduced  during  the  first  hours  of  the  afternoon. 
In  the  evening  well-being  and  api)etite  are  undisturbed  and  there  is  no  sign  of 

The  results  described  above  show  that  mescaline  is  exclusively  responsible  for  the 
major  symptoms  of  peyote  {tnescal)  poisoning.  This  applies  especially  to  the  unique 
visions.  The  experiment  performed  on  23rd  November  shows  that  mescaline  hydro- 
chloride, 0.15  g,  produces  a  pattern  of  symptoms  which  differs  in  only  a  few  respects 
from  the  one  obtained  with  the  drug.  Both  mescaline  and  the  crude  drug  produced 


bradycardia,  pupillary  dilatation,  headache,  dizziness,  clumsiness  of  limb  movements,  loss 
of  appreciation  of  time,  and,  what  is  most  important,  characteristic  visions. 

An  attempt  to  discuss  the  action  of  mescaline  in  detail  would  not  accomplish  anything 
in  view  of  the  limited  number  of  experimental  data,  but  physiologists  and  experimental 
psychologists  should  find  work  in  this  field  rewarding.  It  is  very  likely  that  we  are 
dealing  with  an  action  on  the  central  nervous  system,  although  excitation  of  the  periph- 
eral visual  apparatus  can  not  be  excluded.  In  this  connection  I  would  like  to  mention 
that  Privatdocent  Dr.  Krdckmann,  the  first  assistant  to  the  Ophthalmological  Depart- 
ment in  Leipzig,  kindly  examined  me  when  I  carried  out  the  experiment  on  November  23. 
He  was  unahle  to  find  any  reduction  of  the  visual  field  either  in  general  or  in  relation  to 

At  the  present  moment  I  would  like  to  leave  open  the  question  of  whether  or  not  any 
of  the  peyote  (mescal)  alkaloids  has  a  therapeutic  value.  As  far  as  mescaline  is  con- 
cerned the  answer  is  probably  no.  Weir-Mitchell  and  Ellis  believe  that  peyote  (mescal) 
will  also  become  popular  amongst  cultured  people  as  an  intoxicating  drug.  I  think  that 
this  is  unlikely  because  the  results  which  I  obtained  on  myself  show  that  the  side- 
effects  are  so  pronounced  that  they  considerably  spoil  the  appreciation  of  the  beautiful 

The  discoveries  of  Lewin  and  Heffter  excited  a  lively  interest  in  the  appli- 
cation of  the  drug  in  man.  Lewin's  pupil,  Beringer,  carried  out  numerous 
experiments  in  man  with  mescaline. 

Kurt  Beringer  (1893-1949)  was  born  in  Uelilingen  (Schwarzwald)  as  the 
son  in  a  peasant  family  (Jung  1949,  Ruffin  1950).  In  1911-1914  he  studied 
medicine  in  Heidelberg,  and  in  1918  he  took  part  in  the  war  as  assistant 
doctor.  In  1921  he  became  attached  to  the  Heidelberg  Psychiatric  and  Neuro- 
logical Clinic  of  Wilmanns,  where  he  stayed  for  12  years.  In  1928  he  took 
part  in  an  expedition  to  Mongolia.  In  1934  he  came  to  Freiburg,  where  he 
stayed  for  the  rest  of  his  life. 

Among  many  papers,  Beringer  published  one  regarding  hashish  intoxica- 
tion: "Zur  Klinik  des  Haschischrausches"  (1932),  and  two  papers  on  super- 
stition: "Hexen-  und  Aberglauben  im  Schwarzwald"  (1938),  and  "Formen 
des  Aberglaubens  in  Schwarzwald"  (1938).  These  papers  bear  witness  to  his 
interest  in  ethno-pharmacology.  His  magnum  opus,  however,  is  "Der  Meska- 
linrausch"  (1927),  translated  into  Spanish  but  never  into  English.  This  book 
is  to  mescaline  what  Moreau's  book  is  to  hashish.  It  gives  a  clear  cut  descrip- 
tion of  the  psychic  and  somatic  symptoms,  and  should  be  consulted  by  who- 
ever is  interested  in  the  actions  of  mescaline. 

A  renewed  interest  in  psychopharmacology  was  awakened  in  Germany 
around  1928.  It  was  at  this  time  that  Lewin  and  others  became  interested  in 
the  properties  of  the  South  American  vine  Banisteria  Caapi. 

On  the  13th  of  February,  1929,  Louis  Lewin  and  Paul  Schuster  gave  a 
paper  at  the  Berlin  Medical  Association.  They  described  the  action  of 
Banisterin  prepared  from  Banisteria  and  later  proved  to  be  identical  to 
harmine  in  experiments  both  in  animals  and  man  (Lewin  and  Schuster  1929) . 
At  this  time  they  had  only  1.2  g  of  the  drug,  of  which  they  had  given  0.02- 
0.04  g  to  18  cases  of  Parkinsonism.  The  side-effects  were  reported  to  be  a 
slight  nausea,  paleness,  tremor  and  bradycardia.  A  quarter  of  an  hour  after 
the  injection  the  patients  had  a  feeling  of  being  able  to  move  more  easily,  even 
in  difficult  cases  with  contractures.  An  improvement  was  reported  of,  among 
other  things,  swallowing,  chewing,  speech,  eating,  movements  of  the  arms  and 


Beitrage  zur  Giftkunde 

Herausgegeben  von 

Professor  Dr.  Louis  Lewin 

Heft  3 

Banisteria  Caapi 
ein  neues  Rauschgift  und 



Prof.  Dr.  Louis  Lewin 
Mit  2  Karten 

19  2  9 

Verlag  von  Georg  Stiike  /  Berlin 


walking.  They  observed  a  lessening  of  muscular  rigidity.  The  improvement 
lasted  2-6  hours,  occasionally  seven  days. 

It  is  remarkable  that  at  this  time  a  film  of  the  action  of  the  drug  in  three 
patients  was  shown.  This  undoubtedly  constitutes  the  first  documentation  of 
the  action  of  monoamineoxidase  inhibitors.  Lewin  pointed  out  that  the  drug 
always  affected  the  ability  to  move,  and  seemed  inactive  psychically.  Their 
demonstration  raised  a  tremendous  interest,  and  the  popular  press  took  up 
the  question  of  this  so  called  "magic  drug".  Louis  Lewin,  sick  and  old  at  the 
time,  managed  to  complete  a  monograph  on  the  subject  before  he  passed 
away:  "Banisteria  Caapi,  ein  neues  Rauschgift  und  Heilmittel"  (1929). 

In  the  same  year  Beringer  gave  a  review  of  the  clinical  papers  where 
harmine  had  been  used  up  till  then.  He  also  had  occasion  to  comment  upon 
its  pharmacodynamics,  and  deplored  the  inaccurate  knowledge  of  how  the 
drug  worked.  The  following  sentences  are  perhaps  prophetic : 

First  of  all  it  is  necessary  to  find  out  liow  it  affects  the  central  nervous  system ; 
whetlier  this  is  due  to  a  direct  action  upon  certain  centers  of  the  "brain  or  indirectly 
through  the  autonomic  nervous  system  througli  a  change  of  metabolism.  Many  things 
speak  in  favour  of  the  latter  explanation. 

Kurt  Beringer  (1893-1949) 


262-016  0-67— 4 

Beringer  also  commented  that  new  experiments  in  his  clinic  showed  that 
the  action  was  not  limited  to  the  extrapyramidal  system.  In  his  review  he 
pointed  out  that  no  differences  could  be  found  between  banisterine  and 
harmine.  It  seems  at  this  time  that  all  research  workers  considered  harmine 
as  a  new  drug  for  the  symptomatic  treatment  of  certain  extrapyramidal  dis- 
eases, and  that  in  many  cases  it  did  more  than  previously  known  drugs.  It 
proved  useful,  especially,  in  the  cases  of  postencephalitic  Parkinsonim  that 
were  prevalent  at  the  time.  Some  patients  had  been  on  the  medication  con- 
tinually for  more  than  a  year  without  decrease  in  drug  effect.  The  treatment 
was  in  no  way  incompatible  with  previously  used  drugs,  such  as  scopolamine. 

The  most  remarkable  account  from  this  time  is  perhaps  the  description  of 
the  self  experiments  by  Z.  Halpern  (1930  a  and  b).  Dr.  Halpern  gave  her- 
self doses  of  up  to  0.04  g  per  os  and  0.03  g  subcutaneously.  The  action  Avas 
sudden,  and  she  had  an  immediate  impression  of  excitement,  with  difficulty 
remaining  in  one  place  to  continue  her  intellectual  labor.  Unrest  was  the 
dominant  symptom  at  smaller  doses.  All  actions  were  felt  as  if  they  were  more 
easily  done.  No  euphoria  and  no  clouding  of  the  senses  was  observed.  These 
symptoms  Dr.  Halpern  explained  as  stimulation  of  the  cortex : 

In  all  probability,  harmine  acts  ui)on  the  motor  system  as  a  central  cortico-motor 
regulation  as  a  stimulating  agent  acts  upon  the  motor  neurons,  physiologically  to  in- 
crease excitation.  By  higher  doses,  this  excitation  was  increased  even  in  a  belligerent 
way :  The  author,  who  normally  is  not  belligerent,  has  herself  experienced  this  dis- 
charge of  the  motor  functions.  The  subject  started  a  fight  with  a  man  in  the  street, 
where  she  was  the  one  who  attacked,  even  though  according  to  the  circumstances  the 
prospect  for  the  attacker  was  very  unfavorable. 

The  consciousness  was  in  no  way  influenced  and  in  no  way  abnormal,  but  the  impres- 
sion was  felt  as  if  the  consciousness  was  packed  in  ether.  An  increased  concentration 
of  observance  was  felt.  When  lying  on  a  sofa,  the  lightness  increased  to  a  feeling  of 
a  fleeting  sensation,  and  the  weight  of  the  body  was  subjectively  less.  These  clinical 
observations  should  be  compared  to  the  state  of  levitation  frequently  reported  to  occur 
with  the  crude  drug  ayahuasca  or  caapi. 

Dr.  Halpern  continued  her  studies  in  Parkinson  patients,  and  pointed 
out  the  differences  in  action  between  scopolamine  and  harmine  and  the 
duality  of  Parkinson's  disease.  As  is  now  well  known,  the  monoamineoxidase 
inhibiting  property  of  the  harmala  alkaloid  was  found  as  late  as  1958  by 

The  enthusiasm  for  the  harmala  alkaloids  vanished  temporarily  during  the 
thirties,  as  did  much  of  the  interest  in  ethnopharmacology.  A  few  people, 
however,  worked  remotely  and  undisturbed  by  the  rising  tide  of  synthetic 
chemicals  and  the  general  lack  of  interest  in  exotic  poisons.  Among  them 
Avas  Blasius  Paul  Reko,  more  commonly  known  as  Bias  Pablo  Reko. 

Bias  Pablo  Reko  (187&-1953)  was  born  in  Prerau,  Austria  (Cook  de  Leonard  1955- 
1956).  His  mother  came  from  Czechoslovakia.  Under  the  influence  of  his  grandfather 
he  decided  to  study  medicine  at  the  University  of  Vienna,  where  he  graduated  in  1901. 
From  the  year  1903  he  dwelled  in  America,  first  in  Chicago,  in  1907  in  Guayaquil 
Ecuador,  and  finally  in  Mexico  City.  It  would  seem  that  he  came  to  Mexico  in  1911. 
He  lived  no  less  than  15  years  in  Oaxaca  where  he  worked  professionally  for  some 
mining  companies.  It  was  during  this  time  that  he  became  interested  in  the  local 


flora,  especially  medicinal  plants.  His  interest  in  this  field  was  combined  with  ethno- 
graphical and  etymological  studies.  He  published  many  articles  in  "El  Mexico  Antiguo" 
about  the  flora  of  Oaxaca.  He  became  interested  in  astromythology  through  his  interest 
in  ethno-botanics. 

Reko  said  himself  that  he  published  his  papers  only  to  satisfy  his  per- 
sonal taste.  This  concerns  perhaps  mostly  his  numerological  work.  To  the 
present  reader,  his  ethno-botanical  papers  seem  to  be  of  special  importance. 
He  was  a  good  botanical  observer  and  had  a  large  collection  of  indigenous 
plants,  among  them  the  magic  mushroom  used  by  the  Mazatecs.  His  studies 
were  summarized  in  "Mitobotanica  Zapoteca",  Mexico,  1945. 

In  Jan.  1937  Reko  wrote  the  following  letter  to  Henry  Wassen,  anthro- 
pologist and  curator  of  the  ethnographical  museum,  Gothenburg,  Sweden: 

Jan.  31,  1937. 
Gelati  15,  Tacubaya,  D.F.,  Mexico 

Mr.  Henry  Wassen 
Goteborgs  Museum 
Goteborg,  Sweden 
My  dear  Mr.  Wassen  : 

.  .  .  Apparently  you  confound  me  with  my  cousin  Victor  A.  Reko,  the  author 
of  "Magische  Gifte",  a  journalistic  piece  of  work,  by  the  way,  which  you  need  not 
to  take  very  seriously,  since  its  author  is  neither  a  botanist  nor  has  he  any  personal 
experience  with  the  drugs  described,  most  of  which  he  has  not  even  seen  and  would 
not  recognize  if  he  saw  them.  It  is  a  cleverly  made  up  mi<ctum  compositum  of  compiled 
facts  and  wild  inventions  of  his  own  fancy,  intended  for  popular  consumation. 

I  have  deep  interest  in  the  work  of  Prof.  Santesson  and  would  like  to  come  in  touch 
with  him,  as  I  can  furnish  him  some  very  important  botanical  materials,  awaiting  the 
solution  of  their  mystery  by  a  competent  chemist.  I  am  forwarding  to  your  direction  a 
sample  of  the  "Piule"  seed,  together  with  an  article  of  mine  on  this  topic  (published  in 
1920  and  reprinted  in  El.  Mex.  Ant.  1934)  in  the  hope  that  Prof.  Santesson  might 
get  interested  in  the  problem  and  conduct  some  experiments  in  that  line. 

"Very  likely  I  get  this  year  also  specimen  of  the  Teonanacatl,  still  used  for  religious 
rites  in  some  secluded  places,  but  so  far  never  identified  .  .  . 
With  best  regards 
Yours  truly 

Dr.  B.  P.  Reko. 

Both  the  Piule-Ololiuqui  and  the  Teonanacatl  did  arrive. 

Carl  Gustaf  Santeswn  (1862-1939)  definitely  has  a  place  in  ethno-pharma- 
cology.  He  was  professor  of  pharmocology  in  Stockholm  from  1895  to  1927, 
and  had  studied  both  with  Bohm  in  Leipzig  and  with  Schmiedeberg  in 
Strassburg.  (Liljestrand  1939).  These  teachers  influenced  his  interest  in, 
among  other  things,  the  study  of  compounds  such  as  strychnine,  strophan- 
thine and  curare.  He  published  about  20  papers  on  arrow  poisons,  collected 
from  all  parts  of  the  world.  Especially  important,  however,  is  the  work  he 
carried  out  after  retirement.  The  Mexican  drugs  he  obtained  were  investi- 
gated and  the  results  published  in  journals  that  are  not  easily  found  nowa- 
days (Santesson  1937,  1938).  Among  them  were  Ololiuqui  and  Teonanacatl, 
the  magic  mushroom  of  Mexico,  subsequently  investigated  by  Wasson,  Heim 
and  Hofmann.  Santesson  did  not  have  much  of  the  latter,  but  succeeded 
in  carrying  out  animal  experiments  with  Ololiuqui.  It  is  to  the  credit  of 


Santesson  that  he  was  able  to  notice  the  central  action  of  this  drug  in 

animals,  and  that  in  his  paper  he  writes : 

In  some  way  the  animals  had  lost  their  initiative.  It  seems  to  me  that  there  is  a 
a  partial  paralysis  of  the  brain,  a  kind  of  narcosis  ...  in  these  animals  there  is  a 
certain  central  depression  without  any  other  obvious  symptoms. 

He  concludes  his  paper  by  saying : 

The  drug  deserves  a  thorough  investigation  which  can  only  be  done  with  a  larger 
supply  of  material. 

With  Santesson's  papers  expire  the  old  pre- World  War  II  activities  in  the 
ethno-pharmacologic  search  for  psychoactive  drugs.  The  revival  was  to  come 
about  ten  years  later. 

A  cknowledgment 

This  work  has  been  supported  by  a  grant  from  the  National  Institute  of  Mental 
Health,  Bethesda,  USA  (MH  12007)  and  by  a  grant  from  the  Swedish  Medical  Research 


Plasius  Paul  (Bias  Pablo)  Reko  1876-1953. 

Carl  Gustaf  Santesson  (1862-1939) 


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The  Place  of  Ethnobotany  in 
the  Ethnopharmacologic  Search 
for  Psychotomimetic  Drugs 

Richard  Evans  Schultes 

Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University,  Cambridge,  Massachusetts 



Ethnobotany  and  the  Search  for  New  Drugs 

Consideration  of  Pressing  Problems  

Guidlines  for  the  Future  




The  very  descriptive  word  etJmohotany  has  been  defined  in  sundry  ways 
in  the  70  years  since  it  was  created  and  first  used  by  Harshberger  {23). 
Although  Harshberger  indicated  how  ethnobotanical  investigation  could 
be  integrated  into  overall  research,  he  failed  to  offer  a  definition  of  his  new 

Years  earlier,  in  1874,  Powers  {38)  had  used  the  term  aboriginal  totany 
to  refer  to  a  study  of  "all  the  forms  of  the  vegetable  world  which  the  ab- 
origines used  for  medicine,  food,  textile,  fabrics,  ornaments,  etc." 

It  was,  apparently,  not  until  1916  that  a  truly  broad  concept  emerged 
that  went  beyond  mere  identification  and  cataloguing  of  plants  used  by 
primitive  peoples.  This  broad  definition  of  the  term  ethnobotany.,  now  rather 
widely  held,  was  promulgated  by  Bobbins,  Harrington  and  Freire-Marreco 
(4^),  and,  in  effect,  attributes  to  this  discipline  a  study  and  evaluation  of 
the  knowledge  of  all  phases  of  plant  life  amongst  primitive  societies,  and 
of  the  effects  of  the  vegetal  environment  upon  the  life,  customs,  beliefs  and 
history  of  the  peoples  of  such  societies. 

Jones  {27)  has  offered  the  following  precise  definition:  "the  study  of  the 
interrelations  of  primitive  man  and  plants."  It  is  interesting  to  note  that 
Jones  and  others  {9)  prefer  to  restrict  ethnobotany  to  man  in  primitive  states 
of  culture.  While  this  premise  may  and  probably  does  almost  always  obtain, 
there  is  really  no  reason  to  circumscribe  the  term  in  this  way.  Vestal  and 
Schultes  {62)  looked  upon  ethnobotany  as  a  part  of  economic  botany.  Since 
I  do  not  hold  that  ethnobotany  need  be  limited  exclusively  to  man  in  primi- 
tive society,  my  own  definition  {Jf.6)  circumscribes  ethnobotany  as  "a  study 
of  the  relationships  between  man  and  his  ambient  vegetation." 


Ethnobotany  and  the  Search  for  New  Drugs 

It  is  natural  that  an  interdisciplinary  §eld  such  as  etlinobotany  be  replete 
with  problems  for  investigation.  These  are  and  have  been  not  only  numerous 
but  varied  as  well,  and  the  burgeoning  nomenclature  bears  witness  to  this 
variation.  In  recent  years,  such  terms  as  archaeoethnohotany ^  ethnomycology^ 
ethnoecology  and  ethnopharmacology  have  been  proposed  and  have  come 
into  use. 

Nowhere  perhaps  have  the  potentialities  of  ethnobotanical  investigation 
been  more  scintillating  than  in  the  search  for  new  psychotomimetic  drugs 
{57) .  These  potentialities  have  been  realized  in  the  case  of  a  number  of  new 
and  previously  known  hallucinogens  that  are  now  relatively  well  understood : 
the  narcotic  mushrooms  and  morning  glories  of  Mexico;  the  ayahuasca- 
caapi-yaje  complex  of  South  America ;  the  intoxicating  snuffs  of  the  Orinoco 
and  Amazon  basins.  They  remain  to  tantalise  us,  however,  in  the  case  of 
several  narcotics  known  vaguely  from  common  names  or  from  sketchy  reports 
of  travellers  and  missionaries :  several  South  American  snuffs ;  the  marari 
of  lowland  Bolivia;  an  intoxicating  "tree-fungus"  of  the  Yurimagua  Indians 
of  eastern  Peru ;  the  yurema  root  infusion  of  the  Pankararu  of  Brazil ;  the 
magic  woi  of  the  Yekwana  of  southern  Venezuela.  Furthermore,  they  chal- 
lenge us  to  find,  through  ethnobotanical  avenues,  new  psychotropic  plants 
that  most  certainly  are  still  in  use,  but  which  have  never  been  seen  nor  re- 
ported by  the  prying  inquisitiveness  of  man  outside  of  the  culture  that 
employs  the  narcotics. 

I  cannot  help  thinking  that  Linneaus  himself  must  have  had  ethnobotany 
in  mind,  at  least  in  part,  when  he  in  1754  wrote  in  a  museum  catalogue  the 
following  philosophy :  "Man,  ever  desirous  of  knowledge,  has  already  ex- 
plored many  things;  but  more  and  greater  still  remain  concealed;  perhaps 
reserved  for  distant  generations,  who  shall  .  .  .  make  many  discoveries  for 
the  pleasure  and  convenience  of  life.  Prosperity  shall  see  its  increasing 
Musuems,  and  the  knowledge  of  the  Divine  Wisdom,  flourish  together ;  and  at 
the  same  time  all  the  practical  sciences  .  .  .  shall  be  enriched ;  for  we  cannot 
avoid  thinking,  that  what  we  know  of  the  Divine  works  are  much  fewer  than 
those  of  which  we  are  ignorant." 

In  the  search  for  new  hallucinogens,  we  have  much  to  do  and  little  time 
in  which  to  do  it.  Peoples  in  primitive  societies,  because  they  live  most  in- 
timately with  their  irmnediate  vegetational  environment,  do  possess  a  valu- 
able understanding  of  the  properties  of  plants,  even  though  their  knowledge 
of  plants  has  sometimes  been  optimistically  exaggerated  by  both  lay  en- 
thusiasts and  ethnopharmacological  zealots.  The  aborigines'  knowledge  and 
understanding,  furthermore,  is  probably  everywhere  far  from  complete.  It, 
therefore,  behooves  all  of  us  interested  in  a  search  for  new  psychotomimetic 
drugs  to  carry  out  our  investigations  along  several  avenues  of  approach,  not 
following  the  ethnobotanical  avenue  to  the  exclusion  of  others  {52).  It  is, 
however,  the  place  of  ethnobotany  in  this  search  that  I  shall  here  discuss, 
and  I  want  merely,  at  the  very  start,  to  put  it  thus  into  proper  perspective. 


Civilization  is  closing  in  on  many,  if  not  on  most,  parts  of  the  world  still 
sacred  to  the  less  advanced  cultures.  It  has  long  been  pressing  in,  but  its  pace 
is  now  accelerated  as  the  result  of  geographically  extensive  wars,  extended 
commercial  interests,  increased  missionary  activity,  widening  tourism. 
Modem  methods  of  travel  and  penetration  have  given  civilisation  the  tools 
for  this  accomplishment.  Road-building  programmes  in  Latin  America  pro- 
vide us  with  but  one  example  of  how  fast  this  penetration  of  the  hinterlands 
is  proceeding. 

Our  great  concern  lies  in  the  progressive  divorcement  of  man  in  primitive 
societies  from  dependence  upon  his  immediate  environment.  I  have  often 
stated  that  perhaps  the  greatest  enemy  or,  at  least,  competitor,  of  ethnophar- 
machological  research  is  the  arrival  and  cheap  availability  of  the  aspirin  pill. 
More  than  once  this  has  initiated  an  astonishingly  rapid  disintegration  of 
native  medical  lore.  I  doubt  that  social  scientists  are  fully  aware  of  the 
rapidity  of  this  disintegration,  but  the  ethnobotanist  cannot  fail  to  see  it. 
That  the  aspirin  (meaning,  of  course,  modern  medicines  in  general)  may  be 
more  beneficial  than  herbs  and  magic  is  not  ours  to  consider  here.  What  does 
interest  us  academically  and  practically  is  how  to  salvage  some  of  the  medico- 
botanical  lore  of  primitive  cultures  before  it  shall  have  been  forever  entombed 
with  the  culture  that  gave  it  birth  {51). 

In  considering  the  ethnobotanical  approach  in  our  search  for  new  drugs 
we  must  constantly  bear  in  mind  the  widespread  exaggeration  of  the  useful- 
ness of  ethnobotanical  data.  Although  we  cannot  afford  to  pre- judge  reports 
of  aboriginal  uses  of  plants  simply  because  they  seem  to  fall  beyond  the  limits 
of  credence,  we  must  nevertheless  ever  keep  in  mind  that  there  is  no  reason 
to  presume  that,  because  man  in  primitive  living  does  have  knowledge  as  yet 
unknown  to  us,  he  may  possess  anything  more  than  a  limited  intuition  into 
the  properties  of  plants. 

Although  now  at  long  last  there  is  more  agreement  concerning  the  larger 
aims  of  ethnopharmacological  investigations,  the  field  has  suffered— as  has 
ethnobotany  in  general — from  lack  of  orientation  and  integration.  Ethno- 
botanical research  has  often,  of  necessity,  been  done  as  a  sideline  by  botanists 
untrained  in  ethnology ;  by  anthropologists  lacking  any  knowledge  of  biol- 
ogy;  or  even  by  laymen,  dedicated  enough,  but  devoid  of  preparation  in  both 
biology  and  anthropology.  And  in  more  recent  years,  the  training  commensu- 
rate with  thorough  ethnobotanical  investigations  has  enlarged  its  scope  to 
include  some  familiarity  with  topics  such  as  chemotaxonomy,  which  once 
would  never  have  been  considered  germane.  As  a  result  of  this  checkered 
history,  ethnobotanical  research,  its  purposes  and  its  potentialities  has  too 
often  suffered  from  smug  depreciation  at  the  hands  of  specialists  in  disciplines 
that  have  been  academically  more  clearly  delimited. 

The  potentialities  of  ethnobotanical  research  into  folk  medicine  are  far 
too  extensive  for  proper  treatment  in  a  short  lecture,  but  certain  salient  points 
may  and  should  be  made,  and  these  points  may  be  supported  by  specific  ex- 
amples. In  delving  into  the  medicine  of  primitive  societies,  we  must  never 
lose  sight  of  the  vast  difference  between  "medicine"  in  our  sense  and  that  in 
primitive  societies.  In  almost  all,  if  not  all,  primitive  cultures,  the  concept 


of  sickness  and  even  of  death  from  natural  causes  is  unknown  or  incompre- 
hensible. Instead — and  we  must  here  over-simplify  the  problem  for  our  pur- 
poses— supernatural  spirits  or  forces  of  evil  work  in  sundry  ways  to  bring 
about  the  impairment  of  health  or  cessation  of  life.  We  should  realize  that 
hexing  and  witchcraft  were  widely  accepted  as  recently  as  three  centuries 
ago  in  what  was,  in  many  respects,  the  advanced  culture  of  Europe.  Amongst 
the  members  of  primitive  cultures  to-day,  treatment  usually  comprises  various 
kinds  of  exorcism;  and  diagnosis,  and  often  treatment  itself,  must  be  carried 
out  through  communication  with  the  spirit  or  supernatural  world.  Many 
ways  of  communicating  have  been  developed,  but  the  employment  of  vision- 
producing  narcotics  or  hallucinogens  of  plant  origin  seems  to  have  been 
widespread  in  both  time  and  space,  and  to  have  occurred  in  many  wholly 
unrelated  cultures. 

We  do  not  know  exactly  how  many  species  of  plants  there  are.  There  may 
be  as  many  as  800,000.  Estimates  for  the  Angiosperms  alone  vary  from  the 
usually  cited  200,000  to  about  half  a  million  (55). 

It  is  interesting  to  compare  the  number  of  species  of  plants  that  man  has 
found  valuable  for  nutrition  with  those  that  he  has  employed  to  induce 
hallucinations.  Of  this  vast  assemblage  of  Angiosperms,  only  about  3000  are 
known  to  have  been  used  directly  as  human  food.  The  number  of  species  that 
actually  feed  mankind  is,  however,  very  small.  Only  about  150  Angiosperms 
are  important  enough  as  foods  to  enter  the  world's  commerce.  Of  these,  only 
12  or  13  stand,  in  effect,  between  the  world's  population  and  starvation,  and 
these  dozen  or  so  plants  are  all  cultivated  species  (55) . 

We  find,  likewise,  that  the  number  of  species  providing  man  with  narcotic 
agents  is  very  small.  Between  four  and  five  thousand  species  are  now  known 
to  be  alkaloidal,^  and  we  must  realise  that  constituents  other  than  alkaloids — 
glycosides,  resins,  essential  oils  and  others — may  also  be  responsible  for  nar- 
cotic activity.  Probably  no  more  than  60  species,  including  Cryptogams  and 
Phanerogams,  are  employed  in  primitive  and  advanced  cultures  for  their 
intoxicating  effects.  Of  these,  only  about  20  may  be  considered  of  major  im- 
portance. What  is  even  more  significant  is  that  so  few — coca,  opium  poppy, 
hemp,  tobacco — are  numbered  amongst  the  world's  commercially  important 
cultivated  plants.  Four  of  these  five,  if  not  all  five,  species  are  cultigens, 
unknown  in  the  wild  state.  This  bespeaks  long  association  with  man  and  his 
agricultural  practices  (S5). 

It  may  likewise  be  of  significance  that,  whether  because  of  cultural  dif- 
ferences or  floristic  peculiarities  or  for  some  other  as  yet  unappreciated 
reason,  the  New  World  is  much  richer  in  narcotic  plants  than  the  Old.  These 
statistics,  naturally,  relate  merely  to  those  plants  the  narcotic  properties  of 
which  man  has  discovered  in  his  trial  and  error  experimentation  during  the 
course  of  human  history.  The  longer  I  consider  this  question,  the  more  I  am 
convinced  that  there  may  exist  in  the  world's  flora  an  appreciable  number 
of  such  plants  not  yet  uncovered  by  the  experimenting  natives  and  still  to  be 
found  by  the  enquiring  phytochemist.  This  is  an  aspect  of  the  problem  in 
which  ethnobotanical  approaches  cannot  help,  but  even  though  our  etlmo- 

*  R.  F.  Raffauf,  personal  communication. 


botanical  research  into  narcotic  plants  is  still  embryonic,  we  know  enough 
to  realise  that  both  the  Old  and  the  New  Worlds  offer  rich  fields  for  potential 

Where  do  some  of  the  ethnopharmacological  problems  in  connexion  with 
our  search  for  new  and  interesting  psychotomimetic  agents  lie?  Let  us 
contemplate  some  of  the  hints  that  might  guide  such  research  in  the  future. 

Geographically,  the  problems  may  be  found  almost  throughout  the  globe, 
concentrated,  to  be  sure,  in  areas  where  primitive  societies  still  hold  sway 
unmolested  by  the  inroads  of  modern  civilisation. 

Consideration  of  Pressing  Problems 

Some  of  the  most  interesting  enigmas  lurk  in  the  desert  stretches  of 
northern  Mexico,  where  what  we  might  term  the  "prototype"  of  the  New 
World  hallucinogens — peyote  or  Lofhophora  WUUamsii — has  long  been  the 
centre  of  religious  and  curative  rites  in  the  Tarahumare  and  Huichol  country. 
Peyote,  of  course,  is  well  known  from  many  aspects,  and  13  alkaloids  have 
thus  far  been  isolated  from  it  (33) .  The  explorer  Carl  Lumholtz  (3^)  men- 
tioned, however,  other  narcotic  cactus  plants,  some  of  which  are  as  yet  not 
even  botanically  identified.  "High  mental  qualities,"  he  wrote,  "are  ascribed 
especially  to  all  species  of  Mammilaria  and  Echinocactus,  small  cacti,  for 
which  a  regular  cult  is  instituted.  The  Tarahumares  designate  several  as 
hikuli,  though  the  name  belongs  properly  only  to  the  kind  most  commonly 
used  by  them  .  .  .  The  principal  kinds  are  .  .  .  Lophophora  Williamsii. 
The  Tarahumares  speak  of  them  as  the  superior  hikuli  (hikuli  waname)  .  .  . 
Besides  hikuli  waname  .  .  .  ,  the  Tarahumares  know  and  worship  the  fol- 
lowing varieties:  1.  Mulato  [Mammilari  micromeris) .  This  is  believed  to 
make  the  eyes  large  and  clear  to  see  sorcerers,  to  prolong  life  and  to  give  speed 
to  the  runners.  2.  Rosapara.  This  is  only  a  more  advanced  vegetative  stage 
of  the  preceding  species — ^though  it  looks  quite  different,  being  white  and 
spiny.  3.  Sunami.  {Mammilari  fissurata).  It  is  rare,  but  it  is  believed  to  be 
even  more  powerful  than  waname  and  is  used  in  the  same  way  as  the  latter ; 
the  drink  produced  from  it  is  also  strongly  intoxicating.  ...  4.  Hikuli 
walula  saeliami.  This  is  the  greatest  of  all,  and  the  name  means  'hikuli  great 
authority.'  It  is  extremely  rare  among  the  Tahahumares,  and  I  have  not  seen 
any  specimen  of  it,  but  it  was  described  to  me  as  growing  in  clusters  of  from 
eight  to  twelve  inches  in  diameter,  resembling  waname  with  many  young 
ones  around  it.  .  .  .  All  these  various  species  are  considered  good,  as  coming 
from  Tata  Dios,  and  well  disposed  toward  the  people.  But  there  are  some 
kinds  of  hikuli  believed  to  come  from  the  Devil.  One  of  these,  with  long 
white  spines,  is  called  ocoyome.  It  is  very  rarely  used,  and  only  for  evil 

Several  of  these  narcotic  hukuli  plants  are  still  unidentified.  They  are 
obviously  all  cactuses.  Several  species  of  Mammilaria  have  yielded  alkaloids 
of  undetermined  identity,  but  the  genus,  which  is  not  far  removed  from 
Lophophora,  might  be  expected  to  contain  active  principles.  The  same  may 


Flowering  head  of  the  peyote  cactus,  Lophophora  Williamsii,  the  "prototype"  of  the 
New  World  hallucinogens.  Photograph  by  R.  E.  Schultes. 

be  said  of  EchinoGactm.  In  this  connexion,  it  is  well  known  that  in  Mexico  a 
number  of  species  in  seven  other  genera  of  the  Cactaceae — Ariocarjms,  Astro- 
phytum^  AzteJcivm,  Dolichothele,  Ohregonia,  Pelecyphora  and  Solisia — are 
popularly  classed  as  peyote,  perhaps  because  they  bear  some  resemblance  to 
the  true  peyote,  Lophophora^  or  perhaps  because  they  have  similar  toxic 
effects  and  may  be  employed  with  Lophophora  or  as  a  substitute  for  it  {JfS) . 
There  is  much,  indeed,  that  needs  ethnobotanical  clarification  in  this  whole 
picture ;  and  it  Avould  seem  to  be  a  promising  problem  (16).  All  that  we  know 
is  that,  of  these  last  seven  genera  mentioned,  three — An'ocarpus,  Astrophytum 
and  Dolichothele — have  yielded  alkaloids  {65) . 

Witch  doctors  in  northern  Peru  (in  Piura,  Lambayeque  and  La  Libertad) 
prepare  an  hallucinogenic  drink  called  cimora  from  at  least  six  plants  (-?<?)• 
Several  of  the  ingredients  are  said  to  be  members  of  the  Cactaceae.  There  is 
indirect  evidence  of  great  age  for  the  use  of  this  narcotic  drink  which  is 
concerned  with  moon  rites  of  the  region.  It  is  taken  for  therapeutic  effects, 
for  diagnosis  and  divination,  and  to  make  oneself  owner  of  another's  iden- 
tity. This  intoxicating  brew  must  be  potent  if  the  plant  ingredients,  identified 
apparently  without  voucher  specimens,  are  correctly  indicated.  The  princi- 
pal ingredient  is  said  to  be  San  Pedro,  a  cactus,  Trichacereits  Pachanoi.,  from 


which  the  hallucinogenic  alkaloid  mescaline  has  been  isolated  (21).  Other 
cactaceous  ingredients — a  member  of  the  genus  Cactus  and  N eoraimondia 
macrostihas  {Oereus  macrostibas) — likewise  enter  the  preparation  of  the 
brew.  A  further  addition  is  the  campanulaceous  Isotoma  longiflora,  known  to 
contain  the  alkaloid  lobeline.  Pedilanfhm  titimnloides  of  the  Euphorbiaceae  is 
said  also  to  be  added.  Datura  Stramonium  is  furthermore  cited  as  one  of  the 
plants  in  the  formula,  and  this  alone,  of  course,  would  provide  a  potent 
vision-producing  base  for  the  drink.  With  the  apparent  lack  of  voucher 
specimens,  however,  there  is  no  way  at  present  to  verify  the  determination 
of  these  ingredients.  An  indication  that  there  may  be  discrepancies  in  the 
determinations  is  that  the  chief  ingredient  was  at  first  erroneously  deter- 
mined as  Opuntica  cylindrica  {12).  It  has  recently,  however,  been  shown, 
on  the  basis  of  botanical  collections,  to  represent  Trichocereus  Pachanoi.,  and 
has  been  ethnobotanically  indicated  as  being  a  "magic  and  dangerous"  plant 
{18).  Whether  or  not  the  common  name  San  Pedro  applies  to  both  Opuntia 
cylindrica  and  to  Trichocereus  Pa/sJianoi.,  very  dissimilar  plants,  has  not  been 

This  problem  is  further  complicated  by  a  recent  citation  of  the  "magic 
and  dangerous"  timora  of  Huancabamba,  Peru,  as  a  species  of  Iresine  of  the 
Amaranthaceae  {18).  Is  this  timora  perhaps  the  same  word  as  cimora'^.  We 
cannot  tell  at  the  present  time.  While  several  amaranthaceous  genera  contain 
alkaloids,  no  such  constituents  have  been  reported  from  Iresine.  It  is  of 
interest  to  point  out,  however,  that  some  of  the  Indians  of  southern  Colombia 
are  said  to  employ  Iresine  as  an  admixture  in  preparing  their  strongly  hallu- 
cinogenic yaje  drink  {Banisteriopsis  spp.)  to  increase  its  psychotomimetic 
potency  {4^).  Here  is  one  of  the  most  challenging  problems  in  the  ethno- 
botany  of  hallucinogenic  plants,  and  one  which  would  not  be  difficult  to 
investigate  thoroughly. 

In  the  late  17th  and  early  18th  Centuries,  Jesuit  missionaries  working 
amongst  the  Yurimagua  Indians  in  the  uppermost  Amazon  basin  found  the 
natives  drinking  a  strongly  intoxicating  beverage  prepared  from  a  "tree 
fungus"  ".  . .  the  Yurimaguas  mix  mushrooms  that  grow  on  fallen  trees  with 
a  kind  of  reddish  film  that  is  found  usually  attached  to  rotting  trunks.  This 
film  is  very  hot  to  the  taste.  No  person  who  drinks  this  brew  fails  to  fall  under 
its  effects  after  three  draughts  of  it,  since  it  is  so  strong  or,  more  correctly, 
so  toxic"  {10).  Field  work  in  the  area  has,  up  to  the  present  time,  not  yet 
disclosed  any  practice  of  this  kind,  but  it  is  a  culture  trait  little  likely  to 
disappear  spontaneously,  at  least  without  leaving  traces,  and  the  region  is 
still  inhabited  by  tribes  in  relatively  primitive  conditions  of  culture.  It  has 
been  tentatively  suggested  that  the  tree  fungus  might  be  the  known  hallucino- 
genic Psilocybe  yungensis,^  but  what  might  be  the  reddish  film?  Here  cer- 
tainly is  a  most  challenging  problem  in  ethnopharmacology. 

The  Mojo  Indians,  an  Arawakan  tribe  living  in  eastern  Bolivia,  employ 
an  unknown  narcotic  called  marari  {34-) .  It  has  been  reported  that  "whenever 
.  .  .  the  medicine-men  had  to  interview  the  spirits,  they  drank  a  decoction 
prepared  from  a  plant  called  marari,  similar  to  our  verbena,  which  caused 

'  R.  G.  Wasson,  personal  communication. 


Trichocereus  Pachanoi  growing  on  the  side  of  a  clifiF  on  the  outskirts  of  Cuenca,  Ecuador. 
Photograph  by  G.  Rose.  From  Britton  &  Rose:    The  Cactaceae  2  (1920)  fig.  196. 

for  24  hours  a  general  condition  of  excitement  characterized  by  insomnia 
and  pain"  {34-)  •  According  to  reports,  the  medicine  men  try  to  avoid  drinking 
marari  whenever  they  "could  operate  without  the  narcotic."  This  may  be 
interpreted  as  an  indication  of  great  potency  or  toxicity  of  the  drug.  By 
likening  marari  to  "our  verbena,"  the  French  ethnologist  Metraux  un- 
doubtedly meant  Verbena  officinalis,  a  well  known  folk  medicine  of  Europe. 
The  marari  might  well  represent  one  of  the  many  South  American  verbena- 
ceous  species,  but  only  direct  field  observation  can  clear  up  this  enigma. 

Oftentimes,  no  clear  distinction  has  been  made  between  stimulants  and 
narcotics  in  the  writings  of  early  missionaries  and  other  travellers.  Guayusa 
is  a  case  in  point.  Reports  of  a  strongly  stimulating  plant  of  the  westernmost 
Amazon,  widely  known  as  guayusa,  place  its  use  in  the  westernmost  Amazon 


of  Colombia,  Ecuador  and  Peru.  The  earliest  report  of  guayusa  dates  from 
1682  and  comprises  a  missionary  reference  that  pointed  to  a  use  surrounded 
by  superstition  in  the  region  of  the  upper  Maranon  in  Peru.^  Amongst  the 
several  references  to  guayusa,  perhaps  the  most  important  is  that  of  Richard 
Spruce,  who  reported  it  to  be  a  species  of  Ilex  allied  to  /.  paragvuriensis  "but 
with  much  larger  leaves"  and  to  be  a  tonic  which,  in  strong  infusions  such 
as  those  prepared  by  the  Jibaros,  may  be  "positively  emetic"  {59) . 

The  recent  writings  of  Karsten  (£8)  seem  to  indicate  that  guayusa  may 
have  narcotic  properties  as  well,  for  he  states  that  "just  as  the  Jibaros  take 
certain  narcotic  drinks  when  they  are  preparing  for  war,  to  see  whether  they 
will  be  lucky  or  not  in  the  undertaking,  so  they  also  understand  a  kind  of 
divination  in  regard  to  hunting.  The  drink  then  used  is  prepared  of  the 
guayusa  (Ilex  sp.),  the  leaves  of  which  are  boiled  in  water  for  the  purpose. 
The  guayusa  is  not  a  real  narcotic  but  a  tonic,  to  which  the  Indians  ascribe 
magical  purifying  effects.  The  Jibaros,  however,  seem  to  believe  that  the 
drink  produces  dreams  of  divinatory  significance  or,  more  strictly  speaking, 
what  they  call  'small  dreams,'  especially  such  as  have  reference  to  hunting." 
Other  "supernatural  virtues"  or  magical  powers  are  ascribed  to  guayusa 
by  the  Jibaros. 

Even  though  guayusa  may  not  belong  strictly  to  the  category  of  psycho- 
tomimetic plants,  it  would  be  advantageous  to  know  more  concerning  its 
curious  effects — these  "little  dreams" — that  the  Jibaros  ascribe  to  the  infusion. 
Are  these  effects  wholly  imaginary,  or  may  perhaps  some  other  plant  be 
occasionally  boiled  with  the  guayusa  when  the  "little  dreams"  are  expe- 
rienced ? 

And  then,  what  precisely  is  guayusa  ?  Spruce  noted  that  it  was  an  Ilex  and 
reported  seeing  a  group  of  guayusa  trees  .  .  .  over  300  years  old  . .  .  "that  were 
not  unlike  old  holly  trees  in  England,  except  that  the  shining  leaves  were 
much  larger,  thinner  and  unarmed."  A  collection  of  Ilex  from  eastern  Peru 
was  described  as  Ilex  Guayusa  by  Loessener,  but  it  is  sterile.  Sterile  material 
of  a  guayusa  was  gathered  recently  by  one  of  my  students  in  eastern  Peru 
and  represents  undoubtedly  an  Ilex.  It  is  not  wholly  improbable  that  this 
widely  disseminated  vernacular  name  may  refer  to  a  number  of  different 
plants  with  marked  physiological  action.  The  guayusa  problem  is  certainly 
one  that  might  occupy  the  attention  of  ethnobotanists  interested  in  native 
narcotics  and  stimulants.  It  is  rather  disquieting  that  even  the  identity  of 
such  a  plant  should,  after  some  three  centuries,  still  be  uncertain. 

Another  interesting  reference  concerning  a  plant  with  marked  physiological 
activity  which  may  or  may  not  be  narcotic  in  character  reports  the  use  by 
the  Kakusi  Indians  of  British  Guiana  of  "peppers  as  a  stimulant  and 
excitant"  (4^).  Even  though  the  "peppers"  were  definitely  identified  as 
belonging  to  Capsicum,  this  report  should  be  carefully  checked  by  further 
field  observations. 

There  is  an  interesting  and  very  potent  narcotic  drink  used  in  eastern 
Brazil  that  merits  much  more  investigation.  The  Kariri  (30)  and  Pankararu 
{■31 )  Indians  along  the  Sao  Francisco  River  in  Pernambuco  have  an  ancient 

'  V.  PatiSo,  personal  communication. 


cult,  still  practiced,  connected  with  a  root  known  as  yurema.  Groups  of  war- 
riors or  strong  young  men  are  given  a  gourdful  of  the  yurema  root  infusion 
by  an  elderly  chieftain.  With  bowed  heads,  the  celebrants  see  "glorious  visions 
of  the  spirit  land,  with  flowers  and  birds.  They  might  catch  a  glimpse  of  the 
clashing  rocks  that  destroy  the  souls  of  the  dead  journeying  to  their  goal,  or 
see  the  Thunderbird  shooting  lightning  from  a  huge  tuft  on  his  head  and 
producing  claps  of  thunder  by  running  about."  The  yurema  rite  was  formerly 
much  more  widespread  than  at  present,  for  it  is  known  to  haA^e  been  practiced 
by  at  least  three  other  tribes  (the  Guegue,  Acroa  and  Pimenteira)  of  the 
general  region.  The  ceremony  exists  also  amongst  the  Tusha  Indians,  neigh- 
bours of  the  Pancararus. 

There  is  reason  to  believe  that  the  yurema-drink  is  the  same  narcotic  as  the 
intoxicating  beverage  of  the  Pankararus  which  has  been  reported  under  the 
Portuguese  name  vinho  de  Jurema.  This  drink  is  reportedly  prepared  from 
the  roots  of  the  leguminous  tree  Mimosa  hostilis  {W) .  Chemically,  this  plant 
is  extremely  interesting  because  of  its  close  relationship  to  Anadenanthera 
peregrina,  from  the  seeds  of  which  the  hallucinogenic  yopo  snuff  of  the 
Orinoco  River  basin  is  prepared.  In  1946,  an  alkaloid  was  isolated  from  the 
bark  of  the  roots  o^^Mimosa  hostilh^O)  and  was  called  nigerine,  but  recent 
chemical  investigation  has  established  the  identity  of  nigerine  and  N,  N-dime- 
thyltryptamine,  the  same  constituent  found  in  yopo  seeds  fvoTci^nadena,n\ 
(fhera  peregrirm j{36) . 

In  a  remote  tributary  of  the  Apaporis  River  in  Amazonian  Colombia,  the 
Peritome-Tanimukas  make  use  of  an  as  yet  unidentified  plant  to  prepare  a 
vision-producing  drink  employed  in  the  adolescent  initiation  rites  of  boys 
(57) .  It  is  taken  much  as  is  the  well  known  yaje  or  caapi  of  the  same  region 
prepared  from  Banisteriopsis  Caapi^  but  the  Tanimukas,  who  employ  also 
this  malpighiaceous  vine,  are  quick  to  distinguish  the  two.  The  bark  of  the 
root  of  an  extensive  lacticiferous  forest  liana,  without  the  admixture  of  any 
other  plant  material,  is  subjected  to  long  boiling  in  order  to  prepare  the 
drink.  I  was  not  able  to  see  the  vine  nor  to  take  the  drug  during  my  short 
stay  amongst  the  Tanimukas,  but  all  information  pursuant  to  my  question- 
ing was  constant.  This  liana,  reported  to  be  rich  in  latex,  might  represent  an 
apocynaceous  species,  but  the  problem  cannot  be  solved  until  extended  field 
work  is  carried  out  with  these  isolated  Indians. 

There  is  evidence  that  natives  of  the  New  World  have  found  psychotropic 
activity  in  plants  introduced  from  the  Old  World.  It  has,  for  exam- 
ple, recently  been  reported  that  Yaqui  medicine  men  from  northern 
Mexico  employ  Genista  canari-ensis,  the  genista  of  florists,  for  the  purpose  of 
inducing  hallucinations  (17),  a  property  that  has  been  experimentally  sub- 
stantiated. The  genus  Genista  and  the  closely  related  Cytisus,  in  which 
Genista  canariensis  is  sometimes  included,  are  extremely  rich  in  alkaloids. 
Cytisine,  an  alkaloid  that  formed  the  basis  for  the  former  hallucinogenic  use 
amongst  some  North  American  Plains  Indians  of  seeds  of  the  leguminous 
Sophora  secundiflora  {53),  has  been  isolated  from  leaves  and  beans  of 
Genista  canariensis. 


Other  Old  World  plants  that  may  have  hallucinogenic  uses  amongst  New 
World  natives  are  several  species  of  the  labiate  genus  Colem.  Concurrent 
to  the  recent  discovery  by  Wasson  in  the  Mazatec  Indian  country  of  Oaxaca, 
Mexico,  of  the  utilization  of  the  leaves  of  Salvia  divinorum  as  a  narcotic  (63) , 
a  similar  employment  of  Coleus  putnila  and  C.  Bhimei,  both  introductions 
from  the  Old  World,  was  reported.  The  hallucinogenic  effects  of  the  Salvia 
have  been  experimentally  substantiated,  and  it  has  been  postulated  that 
perhaps  this  plant,  native  to  Mexico,  might  represent  the  ancient  pipiltzin- 
tsintli  of  the  Aztecs.  Chemical  examination  of  Salvia  divinorum  has  not  as 
yet  disclosed  a  psychotropic  constituent,  and  analysis  of  these  two  species  of 


Coleibs,  at  least  on  the  basis  of  the  reputedly  hallucinogenic  material  growing 
in  southern  Mexico,  has  apparently  not  been  carried  out.  Other  species  of 
Coleus  that  are  employed  in  the  Old  World  as  folk  medicines  have,  however, 
been  studied  chemically,  but  no  hallucinogenic  substances  have  been  reported 
from  them.  There  is  in  Turkestan,  nevertheless,  another  reputedly  intoxicat- 
ing mint — Lagochilus  inebrians  (7).  The  leaves  are  crushed  and  mixed  with 
honey  or  sugar  for  ingestion.  A  physiologically  active  crystalline  principle, 
lagochiline — a  polyhydric  alcohol — has  been  reported  from  this  species  {1, 

Without  any  doubt,  one  of  the  most  fascinating  and  promising  possibilities 
of  adding  to  our  list  of  hallucinogens  has  recently  been  brought  to  my  atten- 
tion by  one  of  my  former  students.  Prof.  Melvin  L.  Bristol  of  the  University 
of  Hawaii,  who  spent  more  than  a  year  in  ethnobotanical  field  work  in 
southern  Colombia.  It  concerns  the  solanaceous  genus  Brunfelsia  in  South 
America  (57) .  A  tropical  New  World  genus  of  about  25  species,  Brunfelsia 
plays  an  important  role  in  aboriginal  folk  medicine  in  equatorial  America. 
The  fluid  extract  of  one  species — Brunfelsia  Hopeana — is  employed  pharma- 
ceutically  in  Brazil  as  an  antidiuretic  and  antirheumatic.  Although  atropine- 
type  alkaloids — ^brunfelsine,  manacine  and  mandragorine — have  been  re- 
ported for  Brunfelsia  Hopeana^  little  if  anything  is  known  of  the  chemistry 
of  other  species  {65).  The  aglycone  scopoletine,  a  coumarine  derivative  found 
in  a  number  of  plant  families,  has  also  been  isolated  from  Brunfelsia.  Conse- 
quently, we  know  that  this  genus  does  possess  active  constituents  of  very 
definite  physiological  activity. 

Evidence  for  the  narcotic  use  of  Brunfelsia  is  quite  real,  but  it  is  not  yet 
corroborated  by  a  good  body  of  field  observation.  Herbarium  records  are 
very  helpful  in  this  instance.  There  are  two  collections  that  indicate  the  use 
of  Brunfelsia  as  a  narcotic.  One — Tessmann  S2Ii3  from  eastern  Peru — reports 
simply  that  the  plant  is  "a  narcotic."  The  other — Bristol  1361i.  from  the 
Colombia  Putumayo — states  that  the  plant  is  a  narcotic  and  medicinal  cul- 
tivated in  Kofan  Indian  houseyards.  Other  collections  of  this  genus  from 
Bolivia,  Brazil,  Colombia,  Eucador  and  Peru  indicate  a  broad  spectrum  of 
therapeutic  uses  ranging  from  treatment  of  "yellow  fever"  to  snake  bite.  Its 
commonest  use  in  folk  medicine  seems  to  be  to  relieve  "rheumatism."  Several 
collections  indicate  that  Brunfelsia  is  toxic.  In  fact,  in  the  vicinity  of  Leticia, 
a  Colombian  town  on  the  Amazon  River,  Brunfelsia  maritima  {Schultes., 
Raffauf  &  Soejarto  2Jf.l08) ,  escaped  from  cultivation  at  an  abandoned  Indian 
site  on  the  upper  Amazon  in  Colombia,  has  been  responsible  for  serious  cattle 
poisoning.  The  plant  is  here  referred  to  as  sanango^  which  seems  to  be  a 
somewhat  general  term  applied  in  the  upper  Amazon  to  several  plants  with 
medicinal  or  toxic  properties. 

The  Kofan  Indians  of  the  westernmost  part  of  the  Amazon  of  Colombia 
and  Ecuador  grow  Brunfelsia  extensively  as  an  ornamental.  They  know  the 
plant  as  horrachera.  a  vernacular  term  in  Spanish  applied  to  almost  any 
kind  of  intoxicating  plant,  especially  to  the  species  of  tree-Daturas,  in 
Colombia.  The  Kofan  indicate  that  they  become  very  cold  after  taking  an 
infusion  of  the  scraped  bark  of  Brunfelsia.  This  characteristic  of  the  in- 


toxication  has  been  reported  on  herbarium  labels  of  collections  from  Peru, 
and  may  well  explain  the  wide  use  of  the  plant  as  a  supposed  febrifuge.  One 
of  my  graduate  students,  Mr.  Homer  V.  Pinkley,  who  has  spent  a  year  living 
with  the  Kof an,  reports  these  medicinal  applications  of  Brunfelsia,  but  found 
no  direct  evidence  that  could  be  interpreted  as  indicative  of  its  use  as  an 

Intensive  field  work  may  still  uncover  a  former  use  of  Brunfelsia  as  an 
hallucinogenic  agent  in  the  western  Amazon  or  on  the  eastern  slopes  of  the 
Andes  of  Colombia,  Eucador  or  Peru.  But  Brunfelsia  is  a  genus  that  needs 
botanical  revision  and  phytochemical  investigation.  A  thorough  study  could 


Flowering  branch  of  Brvnfelsia  maritima,  a  medicinal  and  ornamental  plant  common 
in  the  western  Amazon  of  Colombia  and  Ecuador.  Rio  Aguarico,  Ecuador.  Photograph 
by  H.  V.  Pinkley. 

reward  us  with  a  clearer  picture  of  this  possible  aboriginal  American  hallu- 
cinogen. Might  its  use  as  an  hallucinogen  have  disappeared?  We  should 
realise  that  the  disappearance  of  the  use  of  a  plant  in  a  given  area  is 
not  unknown.  A  century  ago,  for  example,  the  sapindaceous  caffeine- 
stimulant  guarana,  PauINnia  Cupana,  was  reported  by  Spruce  as  cultivated 
all  the  way  up  the  Eio  Xegro  of  Amazonian  Brazil  and  into  southern  Vene- 
zuela (59).  I  found  that  it  has  now  almost  completely  vanished  from  cultiva- 
tion in  this  region,  and  the  use  of  the  vine  as  the  source  of  a  stimulant  is 
imknown  along  the  Eio  Negro  at  the  present  time.  Might  not  the  same  fate 
have  happened  to  the  solanaceous  genus  BrunfeUia? 

One  of  the  most  interesting  enigmas  in  South  America  concerns  the 
question  of  whether  or  not  the  apocynaceous  genus  Prestonia  is  or  has  ever 
been  used  narcotically.  The  literature  is  rich  in  reports,  most  of  them  un- 
critical and  unfounded  in  field  work,  that  Prestonm  amazonica  {Haemadic- 
tyon  amazonicum)  is  the  source  of  the  hallucinogen  known  as  vaje.  All  man- 
ner of  confusion  has  attended  this  information.  Although  we  believe  that  we 


are  warranted  in  asserting  that  Prestonia  is  not  employed  as  a  narcotic,  there 
remains  enough  doubt  to  justify  further  field  investigation  {68).  What, 
precisely,  is  the  problem  ? 

It  is  well  established  that  a  strongly  hallucinogenic  drink  known  variously, 
according  to  geographic  area,  as  ayahvmca.,  caapi  and  yaje  is  prepared  from 
one  or  more  species  of  the  malpighiaceous  genus  Banisteriopsis.  Spruce  in 



1851  first  identified  the  botanical  source  of  this  narcotic  beverage.  He  dis- 
covered the  natives  along  the  upper  Rio  Negro  in  Brazil  preparing  it  from  a 
liana  which  he  called  Banisteria  Caapi.  It  is  now  more  appropriately  ac- 
commodated in  a  related  genus  and  bears  the  name  Banisteriopsis  Gaxipi. 
Several  years  later,  he  quite  correctly  identified  a  similar  drink  of  the  western 
Amazon  of  Ecuador,  where  it  was  cajled  ayahuasca.  as  coming  from  the  same 
species  as  caapi. 

When  he  discovered  caapi  in  northwestern  Brazil  and  identified  it  cor- 
rectly as  a  malpighiaceous  narcotic,  he  also  meticulously  observed  that  an- 
other kind  of  caapi,  known  locally  as  caapi-pinima  or  "painted  caapi,"  might 
be  made  from  "an  apocynaceous  twiner  of  the  genus  Haemadictyon,''''  but  he 
saw  "only  young  shoots  without  flowers."  "The  leaves,"  he  wT-ites,  "are  of 
a  shining  green,  painted  with  the  strong  blood-red  veins.  It  is  possibly  the 
same  species  .  .  .  distributed  by  Mr.  Bentham  under  the  name  Haemadict- 
yon  amazonicum.  It  may  be  the  caapi-pinima  which  gives  the  nauseous  taste 
to  the  caapi  .  .  .  and  it  is  probably  poisonous,  but  it  is  not  essential  to  the 
narcotic  effect  of  Banisteria  .  .  ."  (59).  I  have  consulted  Spruce's  unpub- 
lished handwritten  field  notes  at  the  Royal  Botanic  Gardens  at  Kew  and 
find  his  statement  that  the  caapi  drink  is  made  from  the  lower  parts  of  the 
stems  of  Banisteriopsis  Caapi  "beaten  in  a  mortar  with  the  addition  of  water 
and  a  small  quantity  of  the  slender  roots  of  the  Apocynac  (apparently  a 
Haemadictyon)  called  caapi-pinima  .  .  .  ."  "May  not  be  the  peculiar  effects 
of  the  caapi,"  he  queried,  "be  owing  rather  to  the  roots  of  the  Haemadictyon 
than  to  the  stems  of  the  Banisteria?  The  Indians,  however,  consider  the  latter 
the  prime  agent,  at  the  same  time  admitting  that  the  former  is  an  essential 

Spruce  presumed  that  this  apocynaceous  admixture  might  play  a  role  in 
caapi  intoxication,  but  he  was  not  certain.  Nor  did  he  make  any  definite  as- 
sertions, pointing  out  cautiously  that  the  malpighiaceous  vine  alone  produces 
hallucinogenic  effects.  It  was  the  French  anthropologist  Reinberg  who,  in 
1921,  without  the  benefit  of  voucher  botanical  specimens,  tentatively  sug- 
gested the  possibility  that  yaje  might  be  prepared  from  Prestonia  or  a  re- 
lated genus  .  Unfortunately,  this  suggestion  has  been  taken  up,  its  tenta- 
tive nature  forgotten  or  ignored,  and  is  being  propagated  in  technical  papers. 

While  we  know  that  ayahuasca,  caapi  and  yaje  are  different  local  names 
for  the  same  narcotic  drink  prepared  from  the  same  malpighiaceous  plants, 
we  cannot  too  lightly  dismiss  from  further  ethnobotanical  and  phytochemical 
study  this  interesting  apocynaceous  genus  Prestonia^  a  tropical  American 
group  of  some  30  species.  It  is  curious  that  so  little  is  known  about  the 
chemistry  of  Prestonia.  a  member  of  one  of  the  phytochemically  most  as- 
siduously studied  families  of  plants  {39).  No  alkaloids  have  as  yet  appar- 
ently been  isolated  from  Prestonia.  N,  N-dimethyl  tryptamine  has  been  re- 
ported from  '■'■Prestonia  amazonica''-  {26),  but  there  is  every  probability 
that  this  analysis,  for  which  no  voucher  specimen  is  available,  was  made  on 
leaves  of  a  species  of  Banisteriopsis  mistakenly  identified  through  the  vernac- 
ular name  yaje  as  Prestonia  amazonica  {58) .  The  possibility  that  tliis  alleg- 


Makuna  Indian  witch  doctor  under  the  influence  of  caapi  (Banisteriopsis  Caapi).  Rio 
Popeyaka,  Amazonas,  Colombia.  Photograph  by  J.  Cabo  O. 

edly  poisonous  genus  may  be  the  source  of  an  hallucinogenic  drug  makes  the 
solution  of  the  problem  one  of  both  academic  and  practical  urgency. 

That  there  remains  much  to  learn  concerning  the  ayahuasca-capi-yaje 
complex  was  recently  emphasised  by  the  discovery  of  the  narcotic  use  of  a 
new  species  of  a  genus  allied  to  Banisteriopsis:  Tetrapterys  methystica  {47). 


It  was  my  good  fortune  in  1948  to  witness  the  preparation  of  and  take  a 
narcotic  drink  amongst  nomadic  Makii  Indians  along  the  Rio  Tikie  in  the 
Brazilian  Amazon.  The  extremely  bitter  beverage  prepared  from  this  plant 
had  strong  hallucinogenic  effects,  was  yellowish,  unlike  the  coffee-brown 
Banisteriopsis  preparations.  It  may  represent  one  of  the  other  "kinds"  of 
caapi  that  Spruce  reported. 

The  identification  of  various  admixtures  utilized  with  Banisteriopsis  in 
preparing  the  nai'cotic  drink  repi'esents  an  interesting  and  still  poorly  under- 


stood  ethnobotanical  problem  {W).  In  addition  to  Prestonia^  which  may  pos- 
sibly be  added  to  caapi  during  preparation  of  the  drink,  other  plants  are 
known  to  be  employed  in  this  way  in  sundry  areas,  and  some  of  these  species 
belong  to  families  and  genera  that  have  physiologically  active  constitutents. 
It  is  to  be  supposed,  therefore,  that  they  may  alter,  sometimes  significantly, 
the  flavour  and  effects  of  the  narcotic  preparation.  The  Siona  of  the  Colom- 
bian Putumayo,  for  example,  add  what  is  probably  Datura  suaveolens  to 
Banisteriopsis  in  making  yaje  (15).  The  Ingano  Indians  of  the  same  area 
are  said  to  value  Altemanthera  Lehmannii  as  an  admixture  (-^).  I  found 
that  Makuna  medicine  men  of  the  Rio  Popeyaka  in  eastern  Colombia  occa- 
sionally use  a  few  crushed  leaves  of  the  apocynaceous  Malouetia  Tamaquar- 
ina  {Jf9).  One  of  my  graduate  students  has  recently  identified  a  species  of 
Psychotria  similarly  employed  by  the  Kof  an  Indians  of  Amazonian  Ecuador. 
A  most  interesting  anthropological  report  has  recently  appeared  that  enu- 
merates five  lianas,  the  barks  of  which  are  added  to  caapi  by  the  Tukano  In- 
dians of  the  Brazilian  part  of  the  Rio  Vaupes ;  unfortunately,  these  plants 
are  as  yet  identified  only  by  native  names  {3).  How  many  other  plants  may 
be  used  as  admixtures  throughout  the  range  of  use  of  the  South  American 
malpighiaceous  narcotics  ? 

Now,  what  about  the  possibility  of  new  hallucinogens  in  the  Old  World 
flora?  Up  to  this  point,  we  have  concentrated  our  attention  on  plants  em- 
ployed in  primitive  cultures  of  the  New  World.  As  I  have  already  men- 
tioned, the  New  World  seems  to  be  far  richer  in  known  hallucinogenic  plants 
than  the  Old.  The  argument  that  the  New  World  flora  might  be  richer  in 
plants  possessing  psychotomimetic  principles  would  be  acceptable  probably 
to  few  chemotaxonomists,  including  me.  There  may  be  several  reasons  for 
this  real  discrepancy,  but  most  certainly  one  might  be  that  Old  World  cul- 
tures as  a  whole  seem,  at  least  upon  superficial  examination,  to  be  much 
less  narcotic-conscious,  to  feel  much  less  the  "need"  for  these  agents  in 
magico-religious  rites  and  in  the  practice  of  medicine — and  this  notwith- 
standing the  great  antiquity  and  probably  original  basic  significance  of  nar- 
cotics to  many  Old  World  religious  systems. 

There  must  be  an  appreciable  number  of  problems  in  the  ethnopharma- 
cological  search  for  new  hallucinogens  in  sundry  parts  of  Africa  and  Asia, 
but  I  must  content  myself  with  a  brief  discussion  of  only  a  few  potentialities. 

What  is  the  famous  kanna  or  channa  reported,  more  than  225  years  ago, 
as  a  vision-inducing  narcotic  of  the  Hottentots  who  chewed  it  and  held  it  in 
the  mouth,  much  as  the  natives  of  South  America  employ  coca  ?  The  intoxi- 
cation is  interesting,  for  "their  animal  spirits  were  awakened,  their  ej^es 
sparkled  and  their  faces  manifested  laughter  and  gaiety.  Thousands  of  de- 
lightsome ideas  appeared,  and  a  pleasant  jollity  which  enabled  them  to  be 
amused  by  the  simplest  jests.  By  taking  the  substance  to  excess,  they  lost 
consciousness  and  fell  into  a  delirium"  {29).  The  name  kanna  designates,  at 
the  present  time,  in  South  Africa,  various  species  of  the  aizoaceous  genus 
Mesembryanthemum.  While  several  species  of  Mesemhryanthemum  are 
known  to  be  alkaloidal  and  to  induce  a  state  of  torpor  when  ingested,  at  least 
one  investigator  {29)  doubts  that  they  could  produce  such  startling  effects. 


The  ceremonial  clay  pot  in  which  caapi  is  prepared  and  from  which  it  is  served.  The 
pot  must  hang  always  under  the  eaves  at  the  left  front  corner  of  the  house.  Barasana 
Indians,  Rio  Piraparana,  Vaupes,  Colombia.  Photograph  by  R.  E.  Schultes. 

He  has  suggested  that  the  plant  in  question  might  have  been  Cannabis  sativa^ 
pointing  out,  the  while,  that  other  plants,  like  the  anacardiaceous  Sclerocarya 
Oajfra,  are  employed  in  South  Africa  for  their  intoxicating  effects.  Here  is 
an  area  where,  because  the  inroads  of  civilisation  have  not  been  unduly 
drastic,  ethnobotanical  field  investigation  might  be  extremely  productive. 

Another  Old  World  genus  employed  for  its  narcotic  properties  is  the 
rubiaceous  Mitragyna.  Mitragyna  speciosa  seems  to  be  the  species  most  com- 
monly used  in  southeastern  Asia,  especially  in  Siam,  where  the  leaves  are 
chewed  alone  or  mixed  with  the  betel  quid  or  else  prepared  for  smoking  like 
opium  {26).  It  was  first  reported  as  a  substitute  for  opium  apparently  in 
1836,  and  has  cropped  up  constantly  in  the  literature  since  that  time  {8) . 
The  use  of  Mitragyna  is  said  now  to  be  legally  proscribed  in  Siam. 

So  much  chemical  attention  has  been  given  to  Mitragyna  in  recent  years 
(5,  Jfi)  that  the  problems  and  potentialities  offered  by  this  genus  are  well 


known.  It  might,  however,  be  extremely  helpful  if  we  knew  as  much  about  its 
use  amongst  the  natives. 

Passing  mention  should  further  be  made  of  two  Old  World  plants  known 
to  possess  hallucinogenic  principles,  but  the  narcotic  use  of  which  by  native 
peoples  for  intoxication  is  not  well  documented.  One  of  these  is  Peganum 
Harmala  {14),^  rather  enigmatic  plant  that  has  been  placed  in  the  Rutaceae, 
although  now  it  seems  more  properly  located  in  the  Zygophyllaceae.  This 
species,  native  in  North  Africa,  the  Balkans  and  from  Asia  Minor  west  to 
China  and  India,  is  known  to  be  toxic  {6) ,  to  contain  the  alkaloids  harmaline 
and  harmine  (the  same  constituents  found  in  Banisteriopsis) ,  and  may  have, 
in  addition,  a  "narcotic  hasheesh-like  alkaloid"  {6) .  Although  the  seeds  of 
Peganum  Harmala  have  proven  narcotic  properties  and  figure  extensively  in 
folk  medicine,  going  back  to  the  time  of  Dioscorides,  I  find  no  direct  refer- 
ences to  its  religious  or  hedonistic  use  as  an  hallucinogen  {37).  That  it  may 
be  so  employed  in  Asia  or  Africa  should  not  be  ruled  out  of  our  thinking. 

Another  similarly  interesting  narcotic  is  iboga  of  the  wet  tropical  forests 
of  West  Africa,  especially  of  the  Congo — the  apocynaceous  Tahernanthe 
Ihoga  {61).  Its  chemistry  is  relatively  well  known,  with  at  least  12  active 
alkaloids  reported,  the  principal  one  of  which — ibogaine — has  effects  similar 
to  that  of  cocaine  {6€) .  In  high  doses,  it  causes  nervous  excitement,  mental 
confusion,  a  general  state  of  drunkenness  and  is  a  true  hallucinogenic  agent 
{J^J^) .  While  it  has  been  valued  as  a  medicine  and  possibly  also  as  an  halluci- 
nogen in  primitive  societies  of  West  Africa,  it  is  not  clear  that  its  use  as  a 
vision-inducing  narcotic  was  extensive.  Ethnobotanical  field  work  is  once 
again  indicated. 

There  have  been  vague  references  to  the  zingiberaceous  Kaemfferia 
Galanga.,  to  which  the  natives  of  several  parts  of  New  Guinea  attribute  hal- 
lucinogenic properties  (^).  We  know,  in  fact,  nothing  about  the  psycho- 
tomimetic use  of  this  genus,  nor  of  its  chemical  constituents. 

The  role  of  mushrooms  in  the  so-called  "mushroom  madness"  of  the  Kuma 
people  of  the  Wagti  Valley  in  New  Guinea  has  been,  and  still  is,  puzzling.  A 
species  of  Russula  has  been  suggested  as  the  psychotropic  agent  that  suddenly 
causes  individuals  or  groups  to  go  berserk.  Even  though  the  "natives  attrib- 
uted their  extraordinary  behaviors  to  mushrooms,  several  species  of  Boletus., 
Russula  and  Heimiella — or  at  least  most  of  them — do  not  seem  to  cause 
physiological  effects  leading  to  madness."  {2^) .  I  am  convinced  that  much 
more  field  work  must  be  done  in  this  fascinating  part  of  the  world. 

Undoubtedly  the  greatest  enigma  in  the  field  of  the  hallucinogens  has 
been  the  identity  of  soma  {61).  Some  3,500  years  ago,  a  people  Avho  called 
themselves  Aryans,  who  were  the  first  so  to  style  themselves  and  who  had 
a  right  to  the  name,  swept  down  from  the  north  into  the  Indus  Valley  of 
India.  They  brought  with  them  the  cult  of  a  sacred  plant,  called  soma.  They 
deified  the  plant  and  Avorshipped  it,  extracting  its  juice  and  drinking  it. 
They  composed  more  than  one  thousand  hymns  about  it,  and  these  have  come 
down  to  us  intact. 


What  was  soma?  No  one  knows  at  the  present  time.  For  more  than  two 
thousand  years,  its  identity  has  been  clouded  in  a  mystery.  For  some  un- 
explained reason,  the  Aryans  abandoned  the  original  plant  soon  after  they 
arrived  in  their  new  home,  and  its  identity  was  forgotten.  Other  plants  took 
its  place  as  substitutes — plants  chosen  for  reasons  other  than  the  psychic 
effects  which,  in  the  case  of  the  substitutes,  seem  to  have  been  non-existent. 

Western  civilization  discovered  the  enigma  of  soma  about  a  century  and 
a  half  ago  when  it  began  to  learn  about  the  cultural  wealth  that  India  had 
to  offer  to  the  world.  Since  then,  more  than  a  hundred  species  have  been 
suggested  as  the  source  of  the  original  soma,  but  none  of  the  suggestions 
has  won  acceptance.  Amongst  these,  the  principal  contenders  were  numerous 
species  of  Ephedra,  Periploca  and  Sarcostemma:  the  first  genus  a  gymno- 
sperm ;  the  last  two  asclepiadaceous  genera ;  but  all  similar  in  being  vine-like, 
fleshy,  leafless  or  almost  leafless  desert  plants. 

For  some  years  now,  Wasson  has  devoted  full  time  to  a  deep  study  of  the 
historical,  literary  and  ethnobotanical  records  concerning  soma.  He  has  spent 
several  years  in  the  Far  East  and  much  time  in  European  university  centers 
and  libraries.  We  are  justified  in  stating,  I  believe,  that  never  has  greater 
thoroughness  and  meticulous  scholarship  gone  into  the  enigma  of  soma,  for 
Wasson's  avenues  of  ethnobotanical  research  have  been  ingeniously  devious 
and  complex.  "When  I  first  approached  the  problem  in  1963,"  he  {63)  wrote, 
"I  could  hardly  believe  what  I  found  ...  a  clear-cut  botanical  question — a 
psychotropic  plant  that  calls  for  identification.  The  clews  should  be  in  the 
Vedic  hymns  .  .  .  True,  the  poems  contain  no  botanical  description  .  .  .  for 
those  remote  singers  were  not  modern  botanists  .  .  .  they  were  writing  for 
contemporaries  .  .  .  and  their  imagery  and  terms  often  elude  our  under- 
standing .  .  .  But  the  hymns  are  all  shot  through  with  soma,  and  about  120 
of  them  are  entirely  devoted  to  the  plant-god.  Was  it  possible  that  so  much 
could  have  been  written  about  a  plant,  over  centuries  .  .  .  and  its  identity  not 
revealed  ?  It  was  no  secret  for  the  poet-priests.  How  extraordinary  it  would 
have  been  if  all  of  them  .  .  .  had  withheld  from  their  verses  the  revealing 
descriptive  terms,  the  tell-tale  metaphors,  that  the  trained  reader  today 
needs  to  spot  the  plant !  But  this  did  not  happen.  All  that  has  happened  is 
that  no  ethnobotanist  with  an  interest  in  psychotropic  plants  has  applied 
himself  to  an  examination  of  the  texts." 

To  this  age-old  enigma,  Wasson  has  suggested  a  solution:  that  the  true 
soma  was  a  mushroom,  the  fly  agaric,  Amanita  rrvuscaria,  the  same  mushroom 
used  narcotically  today  by  certain  natives  in  Siberia.  All  of  the  many  intri- 
cately interlocking  pieces  of  indirect  evidence  gleaned  from  the  Vedic  hymns 
seems  to  fit  in  with  this  clever  suggestion  so  well  that  Wasson  has  asked : 
"Could  any  key  unlock  this  combination  save  the  fly  agaric?"  He  is  now 
engaged  in  writing  his  conclusions  and,  in  view  of  his  contributions  to  our 
knowledge  of  the  sacred  Mexican  mushrooms,  of  the  narcotic  morning- 
glories  and  of  the  new  hallucinogenic  Salvia,  of  Mexico,  we  await  the  comple- 
tion of  his  fascinating  study  with  great  anticipation. 


Guidelines  for  the  Future 

The  ethnobotanist,  especially  in  his  ethnopharmacologic  search  for  hal- 
lucinogenic plants,  is  confronted  with  these  and  many  more  problems  through- 
out the  world.  Faced  with  the  ever  more  rapid  disintegration  of  primitive 
societies  and  an  extraordinary  dearth  of  trained  ethnobotanists,  science 
would  seem  to  be  doomed  to  lose.  The  outlook,  however,  may  not  be  so  dour. 
Specialists  in  those  fields  upon  which  ethnobotany  impinges  are  experiencing 
a  growing  realization  of  the  potentialities  of  the  interdisciplinary  approach 
that  ethnobotany  affords.  There  is  growing  interest  in  ethnobotanical 
research  amongst  younger  men  going  into  botanical,  anthropological  and 
pharmacological  fields.  Some  of  the  most  startling  scientific  advances  of  the 
past  twenty  years  have  been  made  in  various  branches  of  ethnobotany.  The 
future  should,  therefore,  solidly  be  ours,  and  our  trust  must  be  to  prevent 
its  slipping  from  us. 

It  might  here  be  appropriate  to  end  with  the  words  of  Harshberger,  author 
of  the  term  ethnobotany^  who  wrote:  "It  is  of  importance  ...  to  seek  out 
these  primitive  races  and  ascertain  the  plants  which  they  have  found  avail- 
able in  their  economic  life,  in  order  that  perchance  the  valuable  properties 
they  have  utilized  in  their  wild  life  may  fill  some  vacant  niche  in  our  own." 


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some  habit-forming  plants"  Lloydia  29  (1966)  275. 
Vestal,  Paul  A.  and  Richard  Evans  Schultes.  "The  economic  botany  of  the  Kiowa 

Indians  as  it  relates  to  the  history  of  the  tribe"  ( 1939 ) . 
Wasson,  R.  Gordon.  "A  new  Mexican  psychotropic  drug  from  the  Mint  Family" 

Bot.  Mus.  Leafl.,  Harvard  Univ.  20  (1962)  77. 
Wasson,  R.  Gordon.  "Soma :  divine  mushroom  of  immortality"  Unpubl.  ms.  (1966). 

Address  presented  at  Peabody  Museum  Centennial  Symposium,  Yale  Univ.,  July 

14, 1966. 

Witt.  A  MAN,  J.  J.  and  Bernice  G.  Schubert.  "Alkaloid-bearing  plants  and  their 
contained  alkaloids"  Teen.  Bull.  No.  1234,  U.S.D.A.  (1961). 

262-016  0-67— 6 


Empiricism  and  Magic  in  Aztec 

Efren  C.  del  Pozo 

Instituto  de  E studios  Medicos  y  Biologicos 
National  University  of  Mexico 

Indigenous  pharmacology  is  always  based  on  empiricism ;  however,  magic 
procedures  and  religious  ceremonies  are  often  mixed  in  medical  use.  When 
a  plant  has  been  found  to  produce  marked  physiological  effects  it  is  likely 
than  an  explanation  for  those  properties  is  to  be  looked  for  according  to  the 
substratum  culture  of  the  particular  ethnic  group. 

That  has  been  the  case  for  coca,  "the  divine  plant  of  the  Incas" ;  for  peyotl, 
"divine  messenger";  teonanacatl,  "God's  flesh."  These  examples  show  that 
the  magic  or  religious  associations  could  not  be  taken  as  evidence  of  lack  of 
empirical  knowledge.  Many  times  a  plant  used  by  medicine-men  or  priests 
has  been  found  to  be  an  active  pharmaco. 

However,  the  astronomical  number  of  plants,  minerals  and  animals  used 
in  popular  medicine  prescribed  by  all  sorts  of  medicine  men,  herb-vendors, 
magicians,  shamen,  or  used  directly  by  the  people,  prevents  an  indiscriminate 
study  of  all  this  materia  medica. 

An  ethnoiatric  study  (i)  from  the  standpoints  of  social,  historical,  reli- 
gious and  philosophical  contexts,  is  required  for  the  evaluation  of  the  medical 
uses  of  a  community.  Moreover,  even  for  pharmacology,  an  extensive  knowl- 
edge of  the  socio-cultural  background  and  environment  of  a  tribe  is  needed 
for  understanding  the  orientation  and  purposes  in  the  use  of  a  drug. 

The  case  of  Azetc  pharmacology  is  a  very  peculiar  one.  A  brief  history 
of  Aztec  civilization  will  help  to  evaluate  the  problem : 

The  Aztecs  were  a  nomadic  and  primitive  group  that  arrived  in  the  Mexi- 
can Valley  only  two  hundred  years  before  the  Spanish  Conquest.  They  had 
been  conducted  and  governed  by  a  witch  called  M alinalxochitl,  and  later  on 
by  a  warrior,  Huitzilopochtli.  They  encountered  in  the  Valley  of  Mexico 
human  groups,  the  Nahuas,  of  much  higher  cultural  development  and  with  a 
religion  based  on  spiritual  values  inspired  by  the  great  Quetzalcoatl,  a  god  or 
perhaps  a  man  full  of  wisdom,  who  gave  to  the  Toltecs  codes  of  ethics  and 
love  for  art  and  science.  All  the  Nahua  groups  settled  in  the  Valley  of  Mexico, 
inheritors  of  the  old  Toltec  civilization  already  disappeared,  had  a  great 
veneration  for  Quetzalcoatl,  god  and  man,  father  of  knowledge  and  morals. 
Human  sacrifices,  the  horror  of  Aztec  Society,  were  not  practiced  among  the 
N ahuas  before  the  Aztec  arrival  {2) . 

The  incongruity  of  a  well-advanced  culture  with  high  moral  principles  as 
taught  by  the  Calmecac  or  Aztec  College,  and  brutal  ritual  butcheries,  are 
to  be  explained  by  the  merger  of  two  different  thoughts.  One,  the  Toltec, 
spiritual  and  learned;  the  other,  the  original  Aztec,  magical,  bellicose  and 


One  of  the  multiple  representations  of  Quetzalcoatl  (Codex  Borbonicus). 

imperialistic.  The  Aztecs  brought  under  their  command  all  the  Nahuatl 
groups  through  wars,  treachery  and  terror,  but  took  advantage  of  all  the 
knowledge  and  cultural  development  of  the  conquered  nations.  They  adopted 
the  Quetzalcoatl  title  for  their  highest  priest,  paid  devotion  to  Quetzalcoatl 
teachings  and  myths,  and  kept  great  respect  for  Toltec  traditions  {3) . 

Sahagun,  the  most  eminent  Spanish  priest  who  studied  the  Mexican  culture 
in  the  XVI  Century,  said  with  regard  to  the  Toltecs :  "They  had  great  ex- 
perience and  knowledge :  They  knew  the  quality  and  virtues  of  the  herbs,  and 
they  left  marked  and  known  those  that  nowadays  are  used  for  healing,  be- 
cause they  were  also  physicians  and  essentially  the  first  in  this  art.  .  .  .  They 
were  the  first  inventors  of  medicine  ...  So  able  were  they  in  natural 
astrology  .  .  .  that  they  were  the  first  to  count  the  number  of  days  in  a 
year  .  .  .  They  invented  the  art  of  interpretation  of  dreams,  and  were  so 
learned  and  wise  that  they  knew  the  stars  of  the  sky,  had  named  them  and 
knew  their  influences  and  qualities.  They  also  knew  the  movements  of  the 
skies  through  knowledge  of  the  stars  .  .  .  The  said  Toltecs  were  good  men 
and  lovers  of  virtue  ..."  (4). 


When  in  1519  the  Spanish  Conquerors  arrived  in  Mexico  they  found  a  large 
number  of  nations  or  tribes  under  the  tyrannical  rule  of  Tenochtitlan 
Emperor.  They  were  forced  to  pay  heavy  and  growing  tributes,  and  very 
often  to  provide  human  beings  for  the  continuous  sacrificial  ceremonies  at 
the  Aztec  capital.  These  sacrifices  sometimes  reached  the  incredible  number 
of  several  tens  of  thousands  of  human  beings,  according  to  several  Spanish 
chroniclers.  No  wonder  that  Cortes  and  their  men  easily  found  allies  among 
those  subjugated  people,  who  candidly  thought  they  would  obtain  their 

The  fall  of  the  Aztec  empire  to  a  handful  of  Spanish  adventurers  was 
also  helped  by  the  magic-minded  Moctezuma,  who  had  a  series  of  dreams  and 
other  warnings  about  the  imminent  return  of  Quetzalcoatl. 

The  complexity  of  Mexican  culture  was  greatly  increased  by  the  arrival 
of  the  Spaniards  who  brought  about  movements  of  tribes,  displacement  of 
towns,  mixtures  of  people,  and  emigrations.  Terrible  wars,  destructions  of 
cultural  centers,  persecution  of  all  people  representative  of  old  beliefs  and 
religious  and  magical  practices,  were  systematically  carried  out  in  order  to 
annihilate  the  influence  of  the  devils.  The  new  religion  and  the  European 
concept  of  the  world  were  enforced. 

Xochipilli  {Magliabechi  23) 

Representation  of  Xochipilli,  god  of  flowers,  joy  and  love  (Codex  Magliabechi) . 


Hommage  to  Cortes,  the  Spanish  Conqueror,  at  the  time  of  his  arrival.  (Lienzo 

Tlaxcala) . 

Aztec  medicine,  as  every  other  field  of  that  culture,  was  shaken  by  the 
arrival  of  the  European  conquerors.  The  most  distinguished  people  who 
ordinarily  set  the  standards  and  regulations  for  the  practice  of  any  profes- 
sion, were  killed  or  removed.  The  Aztec  priests,  the  most  learned  people 
trained  at  the  Galmacac^  were  also  killed  or  prosecuted,  and  the  officers  and 
distinguished  representatives  of  every  civilian  activity  were  deposed.  All 
people  practicing  medicine  or  any  art  of  healing  had  to  work  at  their  maxi- 
mal capacity  trying  to  help  the  thousands  and  thousands  of  wounded,  in- 
jured and  sick  all  over  the  destroyed  towns.  Devastating  epidemics  followed 
the  fall  of  the  Aztec  civilization.  All  books  containing  their  knowledge  and 
tradition  in  every  field  were  systematically  burnt. 

Fortunately,  the  most  learned  Spanish  priests  who  came  to  evangelize,  had 
a  great  need  of  knowledge  of  the  indigenous  "superstitions"  to  enable  them- 
selves to  prosecute  evil  and  indoctrinate  in  the  new  faith.  They  went  deep 
into  a  thorough  study  of  indigenous  rites,  gods,  religions,  history,  knowledge 
and  morals  of  the  newly  conquered  people.  They  learned  the  native  languages 
and  wrote  dictionaries  and  grammars  to  assist  the  ordinary  priests  in  their 
catechization  work. 

Some  of  them  became  seriously  interested  in  the  real  value  of  mexican 
civilization,  and  developed  extensive  studies  to  obtain  data  and  information 


about  every  aspect  of  those  cultures.  The  most  distinguished  of  them,  Fray 
Bernardino  de  Sahagun,  was  a  true  pioneer  in  the  use  of  scientific  methods 
for  ethnological  research.  He  obtained  reports  from  groups  of  well-selected 
informers,  specialists  in  every  field,  and  kept  protocols  in  Nahuatl  of  their 
statements.  He  wrote  his  well-known  "General  History  of  Things  of  New 
Spain"  (4)  based  on  that  data.  However,  only  recently  have  his  protocols 
received  attention,  and  are  being  translated  from  Nahuatl  into  Spanish 
(5)  and  English  (6) . 

Another  important  fact  to  be  mentioned  in  order  to  evaluate  the  informa- 
tion tlM  has  reached  us  is  the  establishment  in  1536  of  the  Colegio  of  Santa 
Cruz  de  Tlatelolco,  which  was  founded  with  the  purpose  of  indoctrination 
in  European  culture  of  the  potentially  dangerous  youngsters  descending 
from  the  previously  ruling  class.  These  students  became  very  valuable  as- 
sistants to  Father  Sahagun  and  other  priests,  and  even  reached  positions 
as  lecturers  in  their  own  College.  We  certainly  know  that  one  of  them,  Juan 
Badiano,  was  a  teacher  of  Latin  and  translated  the  only  book  of  medicine 
we  have  that  was  written  directly  by  an  Aztec  physician,  Martin  de  la  Cruz. 

It  is  evident  that  Aztec  pharmacology  at  the  beginning  of  the  XVI 
Century  had  reached  an  important  degree  of  development:  The  multiple 
and  well-kept  botanical  gardens  mainly  devoted  to  growing  medicinal  plants 
were  known  and  admired  not  only  by  Cortes  and  his  soldiers,  but  by  botanists 
and  physicians.  Francisco  Hernandez,  physician  to  Philip  II,  collected, 
described  and  assayed,  numerous  plants  from  those  gardens,  particularly 
from  the  one  at  Oaxtepec  (7). 

The  discovery  of  the  medicinal  properties  of  those  plants  was  undoubtedly 
empirical.  Contemporaneous  chroniclers  report  that  at  those  botanical 
gardens  the  plants  were  given  free  to  the  patients,  under  the  condition  that 
they  would  inform  about  the  results.  In  addition  to  this  example  of  in- 
stitutional research,  we  have  evidence  that  the  professions  of  physician  and 

The  conquerors  receive  assistance  from  local  Indians  for  the  transportation  of  all  sort 
of  materials,  At  right  lower  angle  is  shown  an  example  of  the  means  used  to  obtain 
cooperation  (Lienzo  de  Tlaxcala). 


herb-vendor  were  practiced  by  individuals  other  than  those  devoted  to  sor- 
cery, magic,  witchcraft  and  religion.  We  are  aware  that  active  plants,  mainly 
those  with  hallucinatory  properties,  were  used  by  sorcerers  and  priests 
together  with  their  own  paraphernalia. 

It  is  a  difficult  matter  to  say  what  part  is  played  by  the  pharmacodynamic 
action  of  a  drug,  and  what  is  due  to  suggestion,  when  psychological  proce- 
dures are  added.  The  test  of  healing  has  always  been  poor  evidence  of 
efficacy.  However,  in  a  long  run,  a  conclusion  based  on  repeated  experience 
may  be  reached. 

The  plants  used  in  Aztec  medicine  are  mentioned  in  several  chronicles,  but 
ordinarily  only  the  names  are  given  and  these  in  the  Nahuatl  language.  In 
the  case  of  the  Cruz-Badiano  manuscript,  wonderful  color  illustrations  were 
added  in  order  to  help  the  European  people  identify  the  plants,  but  even 
with  this  data,  botanical  identification  has  been  difficult.  After  four  and  a 
half  Centuries  many  of  the  plants  contained  in  the  materia  medica  of  the 
Aztecs  remain  unknown. 

Some  authors  (8)  have  thought  that  Sahagun  and  other  chroniclers  gave 
a  too  rationalistic  idea  of  Aztec  medicine  because  they  tried  with  the 
European  rationalistic  mind  to  adjust  what  they  saw  to  what  they  knew. 
However,  remember  that  we  have  the  almost  verbatim  protocols  recorded 
in  Nahuatl  by  Sahagun  and  his  mexican  assistants,  which  in  this  matter  coin- 
cide with  his  writings.  We  believe  that  these  protocols  contain  an  almost 
literal  transcription  of  the  answers  given  by  the  informants  because,  written 
in  Nahuatl,  they  maintain  the  peculiar  repetitive  structure  of  that  language. 
Series  of  adjectives,  verbs  or  phrases,  one  after  another,  make  clear  or  em- 
phasize the  concepts.  That  style  appears  in  the  protocols  but  not  in  Sahagun 

In  order  to  have  examples  of  XVI  century  European  "rationality'"  in  this 
matter,  a  few  quotations  may  be  useful : 

"Thieves  knew  very  well  of  enchantement,  with  which  they  used  to  deaden 
or  made  to  faint  the  dwellers  of  a  house,  and  then  stole  everything  to  be  found, 
and  even  with  his  enchantments  took  out  the  barn  and  carried  it  on  his 
back  ..."  (Sahagun)  {4). 

The  enchantments  and  carrying  of  barns  do  not  appear  in  the  informants 
texts,  which  means  that  this  data  is  the  responsibility  of  the  writer. 

"I  was  called  to  confess  an  indian  woman  .  .  .  because  she  was  dying  from 
a  flux  of  blood  by  mouth.  ...  I  had  a  piece  of  bone  of  the  Saint  and  Vener- 
able Gregorio  Lopez  ...  in  a  spoon  of  water  I  gave  her  to  drink  a  little 
of  the  bone  .  .  .  and  as  soon  as  she  drank  it,  she  felt  relief.  .  .  ."  (de  la  Ser- 
na)  {9). 

"There  are  also  some  stones  called  eztetl  which  means  stone  of  blood  .  .  . 
I  had  experience  of  the  virtue  of  this  stone  because  I  have  one  as  big  as  a  fist 
or  a  little  less  ...  in  this  year  of  1576  during  this  pestilence  it  has  given  life 
to  many  whose  blood  and  life  were  going  out  from  his  nose.  Taking  it  (the 
stone)  in  their  hand  and  liaving  it  for  some  time  the  bleeding  stopped  and 
they  recovered  from  this  disease  from  which  many  have  died  and  are  dying  in 


all  this  New  Spain.  There  are  many  witnesses  in  this  town  of  Tlatilulco  of  St. 
James"  (Sahagun)  {4)- 

Undoubtedly  in  order  to  judge  the  Aztec  medicine  in  its  entirety  it  is  re- 
quired to  try  to  understand  the  cultural  and  religious  atmosphere  of  that 
people  living  under  exceptional  conditions  of  anguish.  Their  own  blood  was 
required  to  keep  the  sun  shining,  everything  was  under  the  influence  of  exact- 
ing gods  and  thousands  of  major  and  minor  priests  were  interpreters  of  the 
holy  designs.  Diseases,  particularly  when  chronic,  grave  or  epidemic,  were 
considered  as  divine  punishments  for  the  group  or  the  individual  because  of 
deviations  from  the  strict  rules  of  behaviour. 

But  religious,  magical  and  other  psychological  methods  were  also  used  in 
order  to  solve  ailments  that  had  not  responded  to  ordinary  treatments.  Un- 
der the  circumstances  described  by  Sahagun,  one  is  inclined  to  believe  in  the 
effectiveness  of  his  large  stone  estetl,  to  stop  epistaxis  when  that  exceptional 
mineral  was  held  into  the  tightly  closed  hand  of  the  patient.  The  emotional 
liberation  of  epinephrine  could  explain  that  effect. 

Sorcerers  and  priests  used  to  give  to  patients  and  drink  themselves  ololiuh- 
qui  and  mushrooms  to  produce  hallucinations  which  would  give  them  leads 
about  the  origin  of  a  disease  and  the  way  to  cure  it. 

All  these  facts  could  give  the  impression  of  an  impenetrable  mixture  of 
magic,  religion  and  empiricism  in  Aztec  therapeutics,  but  that  would  be  the 
case  if  we  put  together  all  the  resources  that  present  day  people  many  times 
put  in  action  when  they  suffer  a  grave  or  incurable  disease. 

Sometimes  it  is  very  difficult  to  decide  if  a  practice  is  rational  or  magic,  be- 
cause there  is  interaction  of  procedures  and  influences.  The  use  of  amulets, 
stones,  relics,  conjures,  is  not  magic  any  more  when  they  are  heavily  charged 
of  psychological  meaning  or  had  established  conditioned  reflexes. 

Even  the  classical  magician  technics  based  on  the  use  of  music  (melo- 
therapy),  odors  (osmotherapy),  colors  (chromotherapy),  dances,  cabalistic 
words  and  phrases  (versotherapy),  are  not  to  be  disregarded  as  baseless. 
Those  methods  represent  sensorial  stimulations  that  could  provoke  favourable 
neuro-endocrine  reactions. 

If  we  fix  our  attention  to  pharmacology  the  problem  has  to  be  envisioned  in 
a  different  way.  It  does  not  matter  if  a  pharmaco  has  been  used  by  a  physician, 
a  sorcerer,  a  witch  or  a  medicine-man,  if  we  have  some  evidence  of  a  definite 

We  know  that  Aztec  pharmacology  was  based  mainly  in  the  use  of  plants 
selected  by  a  long  empirical  testing.  Present  day  laboratory  assay  has  con- 
firmed the  activity  of  many  of  them.  We  are  now  interested  in  psycoactive 
drugs.  The  Aztecs  gave  us  teonanacatl,  peyotl,  ololiuhqui,  piecetl,  toloatzin, 
already  attested  in  their  activity.  There  are  others  that  have  to  be  studied.  We 
need  no  proofs  that  the  action  of  those  plants  was  discovered  by  empiricism. 
We  would  be  magic  minded  if  we  would  suggest  that  they  had  reached  the 
hands  of  the  sorcerers  by  supranatural  inspiration.  We  have  no  reason  for 
any  doubt  on  what  the  XVI  Century  chroniclers  tell  us  about  the  well  trained 
Aztec  physicians  with  an  extensive  knowledge  of  medicinal  plants  and  long 
experience  in  diagnosis  and  treatments.  Sahagun  said  very  clearly  that  they 


would  not  use  sorcery  and  gives  names  of  every  one  of  the  members  of  the 
group  that  he  selected  as  informants  for  the  chapters  on  medicine  and  related 
subjects  of  his  History :  "This  relation  given  above  of  the  medicinal  herbs 
and  the  other  medicinal  things  above  contained  was  given  by  the  physicians 
of  Tlatilulco,  James,  old  and  very  experienced  in  those  things  of  Medicine ; 
all  of  them  are  in  general  practice.  The  names  of  them  and  of  the  amanuensis 
that  wrote  it  are  the  following,  who,  because  they  did  not  know  how  to  write, 
begged  the  amanuensis  to  put  their  names:  Gaspar  Matias,  neighbour  of 
Concepcion,  Pedro  de  Santiago,  neighbour  of  Santa  Ines,  Francisco  Simon 
and  Miguel  Damian,  neighbours  of  Saint  Toribio,  Felipe  Hernandez  neigh- 
bour of  Santa  Ana;  Pedro  de  Requena,  neighbour  of  Concepcion,  Miguel 
Garcia,  neighbour  of  Saint  Toribio,  and  Miguel  Motolina,  neighbour  of 
Santa  Ines". 

It  is  surprising  that  Martin  de  la  Cruz  was  not  among  them.  He  was 
the  physician  at  Santa  Cruz  de  Tlatelolco,  Sahagun's  beloved  College;  he 
wrote  the  book  on  the  medicinal  herbs  of  the  Indians  that  was  translated  into 
latin  by  Juan  Badiano.  He  could  have  been  absent  or  dead,  but  we  can 
not  explain  the  fact  that  Sahagun  does  not  mention  the  exceptional  and 
wonderful  book  written  on  a  subject  he  was  studying  at  that  time  and 
when  he  refers  in  extenso  to  that  School. 

In  a  study  of  mine  included  in  our  recent  edition  of  the  Martin  de  la 
Cruz  and  Juan  Badiano  book,  I  discussed  this  strange  fact  and  arrived 
at  the  conclusion  that  Sahagun  might  have  considered  Martin  de  la  Cruz 
already  under  the  influence  of  European  medicine.  In  fact,  many  signs 
could  be  found  of  that  contamination,  mainly  the  names  of  diseases,  the 
pharmaceutical  mixtures  and  even  the  presence  of  a  reference  to  Pliny  {10). 

It  is  a  pity  that  the  only  book  on  medicinal  plants  written  by  an  Aztec 
physician  has  to  be  read  with  a  critical  eye,  because  of  European  influences. 
It  is  interesting  to  note  that  ololiuhqui,  peyotl  and  teonanacatl  do  not 
appear  in  the  book,  either  because  the  use  of  them  was  exclusive  for  sorcerers 
or  because  of  church  censorship.  On  the  other  hand,  many  prescriptions 
that  seem  magical  because  they  contain  strange  substances,  now  known 
inert,  only  means  pharmacological  mistakes.  Lack  of  activity  does  not 
show  absence  of  rationality  in  the  use.  Magic  implies  the  performance  of 
acts,  pronunciation  of  words  in  presence  of  particular  objects,  from  which 
only  the  magician  or  wizard  is  capable  of  managing  to  produce  the  effect  {1). 
Nothing  of  that  sort  appears  in  the  book :  medicines  could  be  used  by  anybody 
without  devices  or  spells  for  supernatural  powers  {11)- 

Magical  practices  in  Aztec  society  had  their  own  fields  and  practi- 
tioners: sorcerers,  necromancers,  witches  and  magicians.  However,  there 
are  no  records  of  true  shamans  as  defined  by  Mircea  Eliade  (-?^),  that  is 
with  techniques  for  ecstasy  and  initiation  ceremonies  as  practiced  in  Siberia. 

Sahagun  had  left  us  the  description  of  several  of  those  professions :  "The 
naonlli  is  properly  called  sorcerer;  he  frightens  men  and  sucks  blood  from 
children  during  the  night"  (.^).  "The  necromantic  [tlacateculutl)  has  a 
pact  with  devil ;  he  transforms  himself  into  different  animals,  and  because 





Segiin  traduccidn  latim  de 




Title  page  of  the  recent  edition  of  Martin  de  la  Cruz'  book  (Institute  Mexicano  del 

Seguro  Social,  Mexico,  1964). 

of  hatred  wishes  death  for  others,  using  sorcery  and  many  charms  against 
them."  {J^) . 

The  same  Sahagun  refers  to  the  ticitl  or  physicain  in  a  very  different 
way:  "The  physician  (ticitl)  used  to  cure  diseases  and  restore  health;  the 
good  physician  is  a  knower  of  herbs,  stones,  trees  and  roots,  experienced  in 


Folio  3S  V.  of  Martin  de  la  Cruz  manuscript.  Notice  the  Aztec  representation  of  stone 

''tetV  in  the  roots  of  five  of  these  plants. 

cures.  He  also  has  the  profession  of  knowing  liow  to  set  bones  of  people, 
to  purge  thern.  bleed  them,  to  make  incisions  in  them,  to  sew  the  wounds 
and  to  free  people  from  the  doors  of  death.  The  bad  physician  because  he 
is  not  able,  ha  place  of  curing  the  patients,  worsens  them  with  his  potions. 
At  times  he  uses  sorceries  and  superstitions  to  make  believe  that  he  makes 
good  cures""  (4) . 

All  precoltmibian  codices  were  intentionally  destroyed,  but  we  should 
remember  that  because  of  the  lack  of  a  true  written  language  those  documents 
were  only  guides  for  learned  people,  usually  trained  at  the  Cahnecac  who 
memorized  the  traditions,  history  and  knowledge  of  that  people.  The  destruc- 


tion  of  that  material,  temples,  sculptures,  and  every  testimony  of  that  cul- 
ture, was  thoroughly  carried  out  for  many  years  with  all  the  zeal  of  the 
most  fanatical  epoch  in  the  history  of  Spain.  The  Holy  Inquisition  soon  was 
prosecuting  any  man  denounced  because  of  keeping  in  his  house  objects 
corresponding  to  superstition,  witchcraft,  rites,  gods,  idolatries  and  other 
uses  of  gentilism  (13). 

After  the  Conquest  everything  related  to  Aztec  culture  went  underground 
and  declined.  When  the  leading  representatives  of  pre-hispanic  medicine 
were  dead  or  had  disappeared,  it  is  natural  to  suppose  that  the  standards  of 
general  practice  would  deteriorate.  XVII  Century  descriptions  of  medical 
practices  do  not  correspond  to  what  had  been  said  a  Century  before. 

This  shows  the  fundamental  mistake  of  people  who  pretend  to  draw 
conclusions  about  Aztec  pharmacology  by  studying  the  practices  of  present 
day  Indian  communities.  Today,  Nahuatl  groups  live  in  extreme  poverty  in 
"refuge  localities"  far  away  from  civilization;  they  live  in  ignorance  and 
poor  health.  These  degenerated  vestiges  of  the  Aztecs  retain  no  inheritance 
from  their  glorious  ancestors.  Four  centuries  of  isolation  and  neglect  have 
left  the  people  without  most  of  the  values  of  their  culture ;  even  their  physical 
condition  has  been  affected. 

Nobody  could  expect  to  obtain  from  them  astronomical  or  mathematical 
data,  nor  to  find  the  marvelous  sculptors  and  architects  that  left  us  impressive 
evidence  of  their  inspiration.  However  there  are  investigators  who  pretend  to 
judge  Aztec  medicine  or  pharmacology  from  the  present  practices  in  these 
deteriorated  groups. 

Ethnopharmacologic  research  in  Mexico  has  a  great  work  ahead  for 
exploration  of  the  Nahuatl  knowledge  and  experience  with  plants.  Many 
writings  have  not  been  studied  thoroughly.  There  are  documents  that  have 
not  been  translated  or  interpreted.  A  great  number  of  plants  described  under 
Nahuatl  names  have  not  been  botanically  identified.  Some  of  them,  painted 
with  colors  in  the  Cruz-Badiano  manuscript,  have  escaped  classification. 

Botanical  Imowledge  was  advanced  among  the  Aztecs.  They  had  made 
groups  of  plants  according  to  morphology,  size,  structure,  fruits  and  their 
uses  m)-  Medicinal  plants  was  one  of  those  groups,  but  the  system  allowed 
having  many  different  plants  with  the  same  name.  Hernandez  used  to  add 
to  the  Nahuatl  name  of  the  plant  the  name  of  the  nearest  town  where  that 
specimen  had  been  collected  (7) .  The  color  paintings  obtained  by  Hernandez 
would  have  helped  for  identification,  but  they  were  lost  in  the  fire  of  the 
Escorial  library  in  1671.  The  drawings  published  in  black  in  the  Lincei  edition 
of  the  New  Spain  Thesaurus  (15)  were  redrawn  from  the  originals  (16). 
These  figures  were  used  again  for  our  recent  first  complete  edition  of  Hernan- 
dez Natural  History  (7) . 

A  great  many  of  the  plants  described  by  Hernandez  have  not  been  identified, 
and  now  collecting  expeditions  are  planned  in  order  to  follow  Hernandez' 
routes  in  Mexico.  It  is  expected  that  fresh  specimens  will  allow  identification 
of  some  of  the  species  described  by  the  Spanish  physician  in  the  XVI 



Protomedico  e  HistorinJor  del  Key  de  Espaiiii, 
Don  Felipe  II,  en  Im  bidias  Occidentales, 
Islas  y  Tierra  Firme  del  Mar  Oceano 





Title  page  of  Volume  1  of  the  recent  edition  of  Hernandez  "Natural  History  of  New  Spain" 
(Universidad  Nacional  de  Mexico,  Mexico  1959) . 


Looking  for  an  orientation  to  pick  out  active  plants  used  in  Aztec  medicine 
we  compared  different  reliable  reports.  We  thought  correlation  would  indicate 
reputation  or  general  use  of  the  plant.  However  the  results  did  not  justify  our 
premises : 

Sahagun  mentions  in  his  History  123  medicinal  plants  and  only  86  of  them 
appear  in  the  texts  of  his  informants.  This  means  that  he  made  a  rigorous 
selection  and  that  he  used  other  sources  of  information  that  we  do  not  know. 
The  comparison  of  his  protocols  kept  in  Madrid  and  Florence  libraries, 
showed  only  78  plants  in  common.  Of  a  total  of  225  different  plants  in  those 
texts,  163  appear  in  the  first  and  140  in  the  second.  This  is  new  proof  of  the 
differences  between  both  manuscripts  {10) . 

When  we  compared  the  botanical  content  of  the  materia  medica  in  the 
Cruz-Badiano  book,  we  discovered  the  surprising  fact  that  among  251  plants 
mentioned  there  are  only  15  of  those  included  by  Sahagun  in  his  History. 
However,  14  more  appear  in  the  Informants'  texts.  We  could  speculate  about 
the  already  mentioned  possibility  of  basic  discrepancies  between  the  pro- 
fessional training  and  methods  of  Martin  de  la  Cruz,  physician  at  the  Span- 
ish College  of  Tlatelolco,  and  the  Indian  physicians  put  together  by  Sahagun, 
who  were  general  practitioners  among  his  folk. 

Furthermore  the  plants  that  are  mentioned  in  both  documents  sometimes 
appear  with  different  therapeutic  indications  or  they  are  not  granted  similar 
interest :  tlatlancuaye  (plants  of  the  genus  iresine)  appear  17  times  in  Martin 
de  la  Cruz,  only  once  in  the  texts  of  Sahagun  informants,  and  none  in  his 

With  regard  to  Francisco  Hernandez  Natural  History,  we  should  remem- 
ber that  he  was  an  European  physician,  representative  of  the  medical  and 
philosophical  ideas  of  "humors"  and  qualities  of  diseases,  and  for  the  "con- 
traries" or  medicines.  In  that  way  Hernandez  described  3076  plants  and 
gives  the  "dryness"  or  "humidity",  "warmness"  or  "coldness"  degrees  of  every 
one  of  them.  According  to  those  European  doctrines  any  plant  could  be  useful 
in  medicine  if  its  qualities  were  contrary  to  the  nature  of  disease.  Once  he  says 
how  bewildered  he  was  at  the  use  by  the  Indians  of  warm  plants  against  fever. 

We  know  that  Hernandez  was  sent  to  New  Spain  to  study  the  medicinal 
plants  in  the  newly  conquered  land  but  he,  as  a  naturalist,  devoted  himself  to 
a  wider  field.  During  seven  years,  disregarding  the  royal  and  urgent  requests, 
he  kept  collecting  and  assaying  plants  and  writing  his  Natural  History, 
instead  of  obeying  the  orders  for  sending  his  manuscripts.  The  large  extension 
of  his  final  report  and  his  wider  scope  perhaps  were  the  origin  for  the  king's 
decision  to  entrust  somebody  else  to  make  an  abstract  of  his  writings.  That 
commission  given  to  Recchi  was  greatly  resented  by  Hernandez. 

The  difference  between  the  approaches  of  the  writings  I  have  mentioned 
are  evident :  Martin  de  la  Cruz  wrote  about  the  plants  used  by  him  and  his 
kindred  Indian  physicians;  Sahagun  strived  to  obtain  uncontaminated  in- 
formation about  the  pre-hispanic  uses  of  plants  by  the  best  known  physicians, 
uses  that  he  described  independently  of  the  practices  by  sorcerers,  wizards  and 
soothsayers ;  Hernandez  worked  as  a  naturalist  collecting  specimens  by  him- 
self and  obtaining  information  on  the  spot  about  the  popular  uses  of  the 




(Libro  VI,  cap.  cx) 

Nieremberg  figures  taken  from  Hernandez'  originals  that  were  kept  at  the  Escorial 
library.  Note  the  Aztec  hieroglyphs  for  water  (atl)  under  Atatapalcatl  and  for  stone 
(tetl)  under  tenochtli. 

plants.  No  wonder  the  reports  differ.  But  they  complement  themselves  if  one 
analyzes  the  meaning  of  the  data  by  keeping  in  mind  the  wide  distance 
between  the  standpoints  of  view. 

We  have  talked  about  only  three  of  the  most  reliable  sources,  but  there  are 
many  other  important  chronicles  and  writings,  contemporaneous  and  pos- 
terior. Sometimes  late  reports  relative  to  cultural  and  living  conditions  of 




mmmm  i  mmim  mnm 






A^O  1629. 



Title  page  of  the  1892  edition  of  Ruiz  de  Alarcon  book  written  in  1629. 

262-016  0-67— 7 






AL  1IJ.H0.  HK.  OH.  ».  HATHEO  DE  ZA»A  DE  HUtiVEIRO, 


V  dilMavob  db  Santa Csi'z  de  Valladoud.  tu  Rectoe,  Cathedeatico  de  lkteae  huiiahaii  ex  la  Vmivbcridad  ue  CoiirosTFi.A, 


Machtbal  de  la  Imfsbial  he  Toledo, 

ABtOHIHPit  Vf-  LA  SaXTA  tr.LEfltA  UkTBOPOLITANA  I>1-  MkxUO,  UKl.  CON&RJO  DF  S.  U. 




Rector  dos  veces  del  Colegio  V'iejo  ue  Todos  Santos, 
Db.  Theologo  de  esta  Imperial  V'niversiuad,  Rector  ires  veces  de  ella, 


\'isiTADOH  General 







Title  page  of  the  la  Serna  book. 

the  Indian  population  at  the  time  of  the  observation,  try  to  refer  to  the  pre- 
hispanic  society.  That  error  is  evident  in  XVII  and  XVIII  Centuries  writings 
when  the  old  ruling  class  had  disappeared  and  the  Indians,  deprived  of  their 
land,  had  been  distributed  as  slave  workers  to  the  new  owners.  New  religion 
and  magic,  new  medicine  and  superstitions  had  been  imported,  and  African 
rites  and  witchcraft  had  arrived  with  the  African  slaves  brought  by  the 

Ruiz  de  Alarcon,  who  in  1629  wrote  one  of  the  best  known  treatises  on 
native  idolatries  {13)  recognizes  those  facts  and  mentions  that  the  Indians 
were  dying  at  a  fast  rate  because  of  bad  health  and  drunkenness  a  vice  not 
allowed  in  Aztec  society. 

Present  research  requires  most  careful  analysis  of  data.  No  doubt  we  could 
still  find  valuable  information,  but  great  patience  and  comprehension  have 
to  be  used  in  order  to  overcome  the  natural  distrust  of  people  that  have  been 
subjected  to  exploitation  during  Centuries. 

Documents  on  magic  are  difficult  to  study.  Translations  and  interpreta- 
tions are  full  of  problems  because  of  the  esoteric  language  {Nahuatlatolli) . 
Literal  translations  refer  to  "the  nine  times  beaten"  for  tobacco,  the  "red 
chichimec"  for  copper,  the  "red  woman"  for  blood,  "one  water"  for  wood, 
"seven  caves"  for  mouth,  "snake"  for  pain  (,9) .  Most  of  these  imaginative  ex- 
pressions have  not  been  explained  and  many  others  have  not  been  interpreted. 
As  we  say  before,  magic  and  its  language  represent  very  old  myths  and  such 
study  is  full  of  obstacles. 

The  scientific  study  of  Aztec  pharmacology  is  very  recent  and  has  already 
given  important  discoveries.  Many  more  will  come  if  capable  people  from 
different  fields  work  together.  The  personal  work  of  Gordon  Wasson  and 
the  valuable  contributions  from  people  inspired  by  him,  is  a  good  example  of 
what  has  to  be  done  {17).  This  symposium  on  an  even  wider  scope,  inter- 
nationally oriented,  is  a  promising  step  for  closer  collaboration. 


(i)  Scarpa,  A.,  "Nozioni  di  Etnoiatrica,"  Stamperia  Valdonega,  Verona,  1962. 
{2)  Sejouene£,  L.,  "Buming  Water.  Thought  and  Religion  in  Ancient  Mexico," 
Thames  and  Hudson,  London,  1956. 

(3)  Caso,  a.,  "El  Pueblo  del  Sol,"  Fondo  de  Cultura  Economica,  Mexico,  1962. 

(4)  SAHAGtJN,  B.  DE,  "Historia  General  de  las  Cosas  de  Nueva  Espana,"  Fornia,  Mexico, 


(5)  Garibay,  a.  M.  and  Le6n  Portilla,  M.,  "Fuentes  Indlgenas  de  la  Cultura  Nahuatl. 

Informantes  de  SahagHn,"  Universidad  Nacional  de  Mexico,  I,  1958 ;  II,  1958 ;  III, 

(6)  Anderson,  A.  J.  O.  and  Dibble,  C.  E.,  "Florentine  Codex."  School  of  American 

Research  and  University  of  Utah,  Sante  Fe,  New  Mexico,  II,  1950 ;  III,  1951 ; 
IV,  1952 ;  V-VI,  1957  ;  VIII,  1953 ;  IX,  1954 ;  X,  1959 ;  XI,  1961 ;  XII,  1963 ;  XIII, 

(7)  Hernandez,  F.,  "Historia  Natural  de  Nueva  Espana,"  Obras  Completas.  Univer- 

sidad Nacional  de  Mfeico,  1959. 
{8)  Aguirre  Beltban,  G.,  "Medicina  y  Magia."  Instituto  Nacional  Indigenista,  Mexico,  - 


(9)  DE  LA  Sekna,  J.,  "Manual  de  Ministros  de  Indios,  escrito  en  1656."  Imprenta  del 
Museo  Nacional,  Mexico,  1892. 

(10)  DEL  Pozo,  E.  C,  "Valor  mMico  y  documental  del  manuscrito."  In  de  la  Cruz,  M., 

Libellus  de  Medicinalibus  Indorum  Herbis,  Ms.,  1552,  Instituto  Mexlcano  del 
Seguro  Social,  Mexico,  1964. 

(11)  DE  LA  CKrz,  M.,  "Libellus  de  Medicinalibus  Indorum  Herbis,"  Ms.,  1552,  Instituto 

Mexicano  del  Seguro  Social,  Mexico,  1964. 

(12)  Eliade,  M.,  "El  Chamanismo,"  Fondo  de  Cultura  Economica,  Mexico,  1960. 

(13)  Ruiz  de  Alarc6n,  H.,  "Tratado  de  las  supersticiones  y  costumbres  gentilicas  que 

oy  viven  entre  los  indios  naturales  desta  Nueva  Espafia,"  Imprenta  del  Museo 
Nacional,  Mexico,  1892. 

(14)  DEL  Pozo,  E.  C,  "La  Botanica  Medicinal  Indigena  de  Mexico."  Estudios  de  Cultura 

Nahuatl,  Vol.  5,  Mexico,  1965. 

(15)  Reccho,  N.  a.,  "Rerum  medicarum  Novae  Hispanie  Thesaurus  sen  plantarum, 

animalium,  mineralium  mexicanorum  historia  ex  EYancisi  Hernandez  .  .  .," 
Tipografia  Vitalis  Mascardi,  Roma,  1651. 

(16)  DEL  Paso  y  Troncoso,  F.,  "Estudios  sobre  la  historia  de  la  medicina  en  Mexico.  I. 

La  botanica  entre  los  aztecas."  Anales  del  Museo  Nacional  de  Mexico,  3:  137-235, 

(17)  Wasson,  G.,  "Notes  on  the  present  status  of  ololiuhqui  and  the  other  hallucinogens 

of  Mexico,"  Botanical  Museum  Leaflets,  20 : 161-212, 1963. 


Perspectives  on  the  Use  and 
Abuse  of  Psychedelic  Drugs 

Daniel  X.  Freedman 

Department  of  Psychiatry,  University  of  Chicago,  Chicago,  Illinois 


Introduction    77 

The  Drug  Mystique   79 

Scope  of  Contemporary  Problems   80 

Inherent  Problems  in  the  Study  of  Abuse   81 

Inherent  Problems  in  Ethnopsychopharmacology   82 

The  Definition  of  a  "Psychedelic"  Dimension   85 

The  Drug  State  and  Its  Consequences   86 

Some  Features  of  the  Drug  State   86 

Immediacy,  Novelty  and  Creativity   88 

"Cultogenic"  Actions   88 

"Model  Psychosis"  in  the  Drug  Experience   89 

Adaptations  in  the  Drug  Experience   90 

The  Need  for  Synthesis   91 

The  Role  of  Groups  in  Synthesis   93 

Use  and  Abuse  of  Conversion   94 

LSD  in  Psychiatry   95 

Abuse  of  LSD   96 

Motives  for  Use   97 

Summary  Viev^r  of  the  Value  of  Psychedelic  Drugs   98 

References    99 


It  has  been  remarked  that  tradition-bound  scientists  will  predictably 
conclude  that  the  proper  use  of  hallucinogens  is  for  research  and  medical 
application;  the  illicit  abuse  is  for  kicks  and  cults  {69).  Our  puritanical 
ethics  are  said  to  prohibit  us  from  even  exploring  whether  the  use  of  hallu- 
cinogens could  improve  the  healthy,  or  possibly  transform  Western  society 
into  a  Zen  elysium. 

Whatever  scientists  may  think,  history  does  indeed  record  our  unceasing 
urge  to  transcend  limits  and  escape  dreary  reality  or  anxiety  with  the  aid  of 
magic,  drugs,  drama,  festival  rites,  and  (with  biological  regularity)  through 
dreams.  Even  though  we  could  doubt  that  drugs  produce  pleasure  without 
the  risk  of  harm,  and  wonder  if  man  is  built  to  sustain  and  to  manage  more 
than  a  brief  chemically-induced  glimpse  of  paradise,  we  must  still  examine 
the  data  of  ethnology,  pop  culture,  and  clinical  use  for  real  evidence.  Do 
such  data  indicate  that  there  are  drugs  which  specifically  enhance  these 
varied  transcendent  purposes  ?  If  so,  how  do  they,  why  and  how  exclusively 
or  to  what  extent  do  they  work  and  at  what  cost  ?  These  questions  will  require 


more  explicit  answers  and  more  extensive  research  than  we  can  presently 

To  discriminate  and  analyze  drug  effects,  quite  imperfect  tools  will  have 
to  be  borrowed  from  a  variety  of  disciplines  and  contexts :  from  the  social 
psychology  of  religion,  of  deviant  behavior  generally,  of  recreation,  of 
social  change  and  self-help  movements,  as  well  as  the  social  psychology  of 
aesthetics,  pleasure  and  euphoria,  and  that  of  groups  and  of  altered  mental 

We  should  recognize  that  analysis  of  these  problems  occurs  in  the  context 
of  prevailing  prejudices  and  publicity  untempered  by  rational  scrutiny. 
It  already  seems  clear  that  whatever  the  motive  for  their  use,  the  consequences 
of  these  drugs  range  from  isolated  aAve  or  benign  or  even  bored  surprise,  to 
reported  shifts  of  values  to  transient  or  occasionally  long-term  psychoses,  to 
varieties  of  religious  or  aesthetic  experience,  and  to  clique  formation  and 
ritual.  There  are  now  conflicting  reports  of  therapeutic  efficacy  in  alcoholism, 
depression,  character  disorders  and  severe  neurosis  {2,  12,  19,  57,  62,  66, 
73,  79,  80,  82,  87).  There  is  also  a  mushrooming  psychedelic  culture.  This 
underlies  the  tribal  motions  (or  brownian  movements)  of  groups  of  long 
haired,  barefooted  dropouts,  and  the  paraphernalia  of  fringe  fashions,  music 
and  art — the  trappings  and  trippings  commercialized  as  psychedelic  "  go- 
go."  Some  serious  theologians  as  well  as  our  peripatetic  prophets  now  seek 
the  drugs  as  a  promoter  of  love,  of  religious  or  self -enhancement  [8,  21,  Jf-Jj., 
83,  91).  Some  are  sincere  and  private  in  these  pursuits,  some  provocative 
and  evangelistic. 

We  are  in  any  event  presented  with  a  barrage  of  elaborately  literate 
(though  not  thereby  the  more  accurate)  claims.  Of  course,  prophets,  seers, 
gentle  and  ferocious  reformers,  acting  for  good  or  evil,  have  often  held 
that  special  visions  were  not  only  their  inspiration  but  their  guide.  They 
promise  salvation.  They  also  threaten  misery  to  those  who  do  not  accurately 
assess  (i.e.,  agree  with)  the  efficacy  of  such  claims.  Truly  dispassionate 
assessment — ^the  exercise  of  judgment — may,  as  the  elect  warn,  deprive  one 
of  access  to  the  mysteries  revealed  in  special  states;  thus  if  one  is  "in," 
there  may  be  no  way  out !  The  only  answer  to  such  dilemmas  posed  by  any 
cult  is  exposure  to  experience,  to  knowledge  and  assessment  over  time — i.e., 

Thus  these  drugs  are  often  used  for  a  variety  of  purposes  more  complex 
than  the  simple  pursuit  of  pleasure.  In  any  event,  hedonistic  kicks  can 
be  achieved  far  more  reliably  with  other  chemicals  or  activities.  If  we  take 
LSD  as  a  prototype,  I  believe  that  in  their  extreme  and  most  potent  form 
we  are  examining  drugs  which  influence  that  complex  psychological  ma- 
chinery with  which  we  establish  meaning  and  communion  with  others.  There 
are  few  drugs  which  can  so  unhinge  us  from  the  constancies  which  regulate 
daily  life,  or  so  clearly  present  us  with  data  from  the  "inside  world"  and 
from  the  many  normally  "inutile"  perceptions  potentially  available  to  us. 
Surely,  it  is  tempting  to  snatch  some  good  from  this.  It  also  can  do  us 
little  harm  to  place  such  experiences  in  the  continuum  of  other  states  in 


which  a  range  of  sensory  impressions  and  insights  revealed  to  the  self  are 
regarded  with  awe  or  claimed  as  therapeutic,  or  as  personality  if  not  world- 
transforming  events  (i,  5,  5,  56",  57,  67^  80,  86,  88).  Given  an  ample 
smorgasbord  of  effects,  claims  and  usages,  we  can  eventually  best  gain 
perspective  by  concentrating  on  what — if  anything — is  common  to  all  of 
these  varied  drug  effects. 

The  Drug  Mystique 

The  young — who  are  being  importuned  by  "friendly"  advocates  (and  the 
young  always  have  such  friends)  or  lured  by  dire  warnings — are  entitled 
to  what  facts  we  now  know  about  these  problems.  We  in  turn  might  learn 
from  their  interest,  from  not  uncommon  tragedies  (of  which  we  are  seeing 
an  increase)  and  ponder  the  adequacy  of  our  responses  to  their  probings 
and  needs.  My  own  patchwork  impression  of  the  growing  use  of  marijuana 
and,  to  a  lesser  extent  LSD,  in  intellectual  groups  is  that  these  are  hy  and 
large  more  socially  interesting  (or  irritating)  than  socially  important  phe- 
nomena. Rather,  a  drug  mystique  has  been  welded  to  the  underlyingly  serious 
shifts  and  strains  inherently  experienced  by  the  most  potentially  unstable 
group  of  any  society — the  adolescent  and  young  adult.  That  our  society  and 
our  youth  have  problems  is  not  at  issue.  Nor  can  we  determine  here  whether 
indeed  this  generation  is  a  "now"  group,  tending  to  confrontations,  valuing 
honesty,  love,  direct  and  uncomplicated  action,  and  avoiding  ideologies  in 
favor  of  simple  justice;  these  values — however  germane  to  the  LSD  expe- 
rience— were  not  born  from  the  drugged  mind.  What  is  clear  is  that  an 
ideology  couched  in  the  language  of  drugs  or  pseudo-zen  philosophy  has 
been  insinuated  into  youth  culture,  and  by  a  band  of  quite  articulate  writers 
and  vagrant  psychologists.  These  have  replaced  the  old  medicine  show  of 
yesteryear  with  an  updated  campus  version  complete  with  readings  and 
alluring  arguments,  if  not  pills  to  sell :  "drop  out,  tune  in,  turn  on."  Thus, 
this  mystique  has  been  generated  by  frenetic  advertisements  for  themselves 
by  the  fad  and  fashion  makers  and  idea  mongers,  and  the  press  has  been 
ready  to  exploit  each  sensation. 

The  philosophical  arguments  of  the  advocates  are  carefully  dissociated 
from  the  social  consequences  of  their  publications.  They  insist  they  have 
the  civil  right  to  take  any  agent  which  "does  not  harm  others."  Such  claims 
gained  their  real  momentum  when  a  few  psychologists  who  peddled  the 
drug  resented  the  notion  that  scientific  and  medical — or  at  least  nurse's — 
training  were  required  for  responsible  drug  administration ;  the  requirement 
for  such  institutionalized  "know-how"  was  viewed  as  a  plot  of  a  smug 
establishment.  This  argument,  if  carried  to  its  extreme,  would  counsel  a 
case  requiring  cardiac  surgery  to  refuse  care  from  a  trained  expert  who 
votes  Republican — and  to  do  so,  if  necessary,  on  trumped  up  religious 
grounds.  It  seems  ridiculous  to  have  to  state  that  while  each  of  us  in  our 
infant  development  has  attempted  to  assert  the  right  to  do  what  we  want 


when  and  where  we  want  it,  every  society  has  shaped  some  constraints — 
ranging  from  some  form  of  toilet  training  to  traffic  control — constraints 
impinging  on  our  private  views  of  our  capacities,  rights  and  bodily  urges. 
Such  is  the  uncivil  level  to  which  "debates"  about  the  drugs  lead  I  It  is,  of 
course,  hardly  a  private  matter  (and  it  is  a  civil  matter)  when  such  prose- 
lytizing leads  to  a  number  of  drug-related  cases  requiring  medical  and 
psychiatric  care  for  brief  or  longer  periods  of  time. 

The  irresponsibility  of  the  psychedelic  gurus  is  demonstrated  in  the  fact 
that  while  they  advertise  the  drug  as  only  a  part  of  tTieir  version  of  a  way 
of  life,  they  are  not  in  a  position  to  manage  the  consequences  of  their  ideologi- 
cal schemes.  Can  they  really  be-  innocently  surprised  if  the  drug  per  se  is 
more  alluring  and  interesting  to  the  immature  than  their  philosophical 
preachings  ?  They  may  reach  certain  segments  of  our  youth  far  more  read.ily 
than  most  conventional  authorities,  but  nothing  in  their  performance  to 
date  shows  they  know  how  to  manage  or  anticipate  what  they  so  blithely 
initiate.  Psychiatrists  who  have  worked  intensively  in  private  institutions 
with  young  borderline  or  schizophrenic  patients  are  quite  familiar  with  some 
of  the  tribal  behaviors,  excesses,  philosophizing,  and  "freak  outs"  similar 
to  those  which  occur  in  psychedelic  cults.  "Wild  analysis"  and  "psyching" — 
probing  into  one  another's  supposedly  tmconscious  motives — characterized 
youth  of  previous  generations,  as  did  self-experiments  with  hypnosis  even 
in  the  19th  century. 

The  increasing  problem  of  drug  abuse  in  most  countries  is  alcohol,  followed 
by  barbiturates,  amphetamines,  opiates  and  mild  tranquilizers.  As  I  see  it. 
the  consequences  to  national  health  and  social  welfare  of  these  drugs  are  not 
as  yet  startling — either  in  terms  of  the  utility  of  LSD  o?'  its  harm.  Debates 
about  whether  to  use  or  not  to  use  LSD  are  hardly  as  consequential  as  the 
use  of  "The  Pill"  in  our  society.  The  agent  most  frequently  used  by  youth 
for  illicit  purposes  and  with  lethal  effect  is  the  automobile:  and  the  most 
faithful  monitor  of  the  scope  of  such  social  problems  is  the  prevailing  high 
insurance  rates  for  young  males.  I  know  of  no  rate  changes  for  medical, 
psychiatric  or  mortician's  coverage  which  have  been  instituted  by  this  actu- 
arial superego  of  our  society  in  response  to  these  chemicals.  This  is  an 
interesting  generation  but  they  have  not  yet  gone  completely  to  pot !  On 
the  campus  scene,  interest  in  these  drugs  clearly  flies  high,  but  not  in  the 
majoritj-  of  students.  "Acid"  commentaries  are,  if  not  more  abmidant.  more 
influential  than  trips.  While  in  the  large  picture,  the  scope  and  pattern  of 
hallucinogenic  drug  use  in  our  society  must  be  said  to  be  more  sensational 
than  consequential,  the  development  of  cults  and  a  sharp  increase  in  drug- 
taking  behavior  in  relatively  small,  often  elite  or  fringe  segments  of  our 
society  warrants  investigation. 

Contemporary  Problems 


Inherent  Problems  in  the  Study  of  Abuse 

For  opiate  use  and  abuse  and  for  the  abusive  potential  in  marijuana  (j^,  6^ 
13^  16, 16,  Jfi,  60, 61,  63, 68) ,  excellent  studies  have  been  done.  Designs  for  the 
study  of  LSD  abuse  could  profit  from  these.  It  is  clear  that  the  motives 
for  experimenting  with  a  drug,  for  trying  a  drug,  for  interpreting  the  subjec- 
tive effects  of  a  drug  {81 ) ,  and  for  continuing  drug  usage  and  for  seriously 
maintaining  it  can  be  quite  different.  The  ability  of  the  habituated  to  control 
their  intake  also  varies ;  e.g.,  many  people  have  the  alcohol  habit  but  control 
their  intake  in  accord  with  their  social  obligations.  It  is  also  clear  that  the 
population  of  users  shifts;  e.g.,  cannabis  users  have  shifted  throughout 
history  even  in  countries  such  as  India,  and  before  1910,  middle  class  women 
were  frequently  represented  among  our  opiate  addicted  population.  The 
response  of  society  to  drugs  differs,  often  mecurially  and  rarely  in  response 
to  sober  judgments.  For  example,  over  30  years  ago,  the  Federal  Nar- 
cotics Bureau  saw  no  harm  in  marijuana  and  within  2  years — and  with 
no  more  objective  data — decided  there  was  a  menace.  The  complexities  of 
the  drug-taking,  drug  selling  and  drug  policing  groups  (who  form  sub- 
societies  "needing"  each  other) ,  should  be  noted.  When  underworld  vendors 
specialize  in  one  class  of  illicit  imports,  they  may  also  market  others.  Thus 
heroin  and  marijuana  are  occasionally  though  not  usually  sold  by  the  same 
peddlers.  This  association  is  a  social  consequence  of  prohibition  and  polic- 
ing— not  an  actual  or  pharmacological  link  of  the  drugs.  Marijuana  users, 
psychedelic  drug  or  opiate  users,  "goofball"  or  amphetamine  abusers,  are  not 
commonly  the  same  population  (although  there  is  overlap),  nor  has  the 
illicit  «3upply  of  psychedelics  yet  been  merged  with  that  of  heroin. 

For  the  nonaddicting  but  so-called  hallucinogenic  drugs,  we  have  much 
yet  to  learn  about  current  practices.  Only  a  minute  fraction  of  persons  who 
have  taken  these  drugs  could  be  said  to  constitute  a  reliable  base  for  study 
of  long-term  users ;  groups  of  persons  who  drift  in  and  out  of  the  category 
of  users  are  not  easy  to  identify,  and  are  hardly  reliable  reporters  since  some 
are  always  first  discovering  the  drug  while  others  are  experiencing  disillusion 
or  worse.  Indeed,  over  the  past  ten  years  we  have  been  greeted  with  fresh 
pronouncements  of  new  discovery  of  the  effects  of  a  synthetic  compound 
(LSD)  which  has  recurrently  startled  its  takers  since  it  was  first  known — 
well  over  20  years  ago.  Scrutiny  of  the  response  to  the  mescaline-containing 
peyote — known  since  the  last  century — similarly  reveals  cycles  of  startled 
amazement  as  several  new  groups  or  persons  came  to  learn  of  it  and  adapt  to 
it;  e.g.,  Havelock  Ellis  and  William  James  (who  did  not,  incidentally,  form 
cults  in  1902)  {28,30). 

Complications  for  research  arise  from  the  current  publicity.  Selling  and 
propaganda  create  a  bandwagon  effect  and  complicate  a  sober  assessment 
of  the  extent  and  nature  of  drug  use.  The  hucksters  gain  attention,  audiences 
and  monetary  support  as  they  threaten  the  establishment  with  love  and^ — 
long  before  the  fact  of  truly  increased  drug  usage — announce  that  hordes 
of  young  people  are,  if  not  their  followers,  then  independently  dedicated 
drug  users.  The  establishment,  on  the  other  hand,  must  react  with  irritation 


or  even  fright  at  the  announced  threat.  The  head  of  the  Food  and  Drug 
Administration  has  a  political  hide  which  can  be  at  stake  since  he  must 
answer  to  readily  alarmed  legislators — not  to  research  scientists.  Accordingly, 
those  scientists  studying  the  effects  of  drugs  on  brain  chemistry  and  behavior 
in  animals  have  clear-cut  procedures, for  obtaining  and  accounting  for  sup- 
plies of  narcotics  but  not  of  psychotomimetics  (in  spite  of  the  promise  by 
the  FDA  in  May  of  1966  to  set  up  machinery  and  explicit  guidelines). 
Finally,  as  the  advertising  escalates  and  the  empirical  problem  grows,  the 
young  and  their  parents  must  enter  the  debate  and  assess  the  claims  of  value. 
Physicians  hysterically  crying  alarm  rather  than  pointing  rationally  to 
danger  join  the  melee.  The  use  of  these  drugs  in  experimental  psychiatry  to 
study  altered  states  or  the  genesis  of  symptoms  or  new  learning  or  the  nature 
of  brain  mechanisms  related  to  altered  perception  {10^  29,  52,  58,  72,  93) 
proceeds  with  National  Institute  of  Mental  Health  support,  but  not  without 
severe  problems  of  sanction  contingent  upon  sensationalism  and  fear  in  the 

Physicians  who  make  headlines  with  reports  of  dire  results  both  lure  the 
susceptible  and  generate  their  clientele  who  are  latently  worried  about  what 
they  are  doing.  Sober  medical  assessment  would  be  more  effective — and 
honest — as  a  deterrent.  It  is  also  most  important  to  sort  out  the  various 
factors  which  might  complicate  the  picture  the  physician  sees  when  patients 
are  brought  by  drugged  friends  or  in  other  disorganized  circumstances  to 
hospitals  for  one  or  another  indication.  The  possibility  of  complicated  drug- 
taking  patterns  in  such  patients,  of  prior  instability  if  not  mental  disorder, 
is  to  be  investigated.  In  brief,  the  fact  that  the  drug  is  a  precipitant  or 
concommitant  of  an  ongoing  disorder  must  very  clearly  be  distinguished 
before  we  determine  anything  really  definitive  about  long-term  effects 
{22,  23,  2U,  31,  32,  k2, 1^5,  61^,  77,  92) .  If  we  recall  the  reaction  of  the  medical 
community  to  the  psychotogenic  effect  of  steroids,  and  if  we  take  cognizance 
now  of  the  fact  that  these  disorders  still  occur,  the  difference  is  that  we  now 
know  what  the  steroid  psychoses  portend ;  we  can  predict  with  more  confidence 
what  the  results  will  be  and  accordingly  (even  though  attending  physicians 
are  often  uncomfortable)  there  is  little  scare  literature  presenting  uneval- 
uated  snapshots  of  steroid  psychoses  in  cross-section,  so  to  speak.  As  a  gen- 
eral public  we  are  gullible,  vulnerable  to  sensationalism  and  to  over-reactions 
on  any  side  of  the  issues  involving  behavior  active  drugs.  This  is  true  also 
not  only  of  the  press,  of  poets  genuine  and  manque,  but  of  legislators, 
bureaucrats,  and  physicians. 

Inherent  Problems  in  Ethnopsychopharmacology 

We  react  with  similar  responses  to  a  variety  of  drug-induced  experiences, 
but  there  are  characteristic  behavioral  patterns  and  social  uses  which  cluster 
around  one  or  another  drug ;  e.g.,  opiates  probably  do  differ  not  only  pharma- 
cologically and  psychologically  but  in  terms  of  patterns  of  social  use  from 
LSD  or  peyote.  Research  is  required  both  at  the  psychopharmacological  and 


ethnological  levels  to  be  certain.  A  major  problem  exists  anytime  we  study 
the  varieties  of  so-called  irrational  behavior.  This  is  that  there  is  nothing 
intrinsic  to  the  training  and  practice  of  a  wide  number  of  professionals 
which  equips  them  knowledgeably  to  handle  and  interpret  either  the  irra- 
tional itself  or  themselves  when  dealing  with  it.  What  little  knowledge  re- 
sides within  the  experience  of  psychiatry  has  not  been  made  sufficiently  ex- 
plicit to  be  extensively  applied  by  others.  If  a  historian  documented  the  dis- 
tractions inherent  in  trying  to  understand  or  deal  with  schizophrenia,  with 
hypnosis,  with  dreams,  or  with  such  questions  as  religious  conversion —  and 
certainly  with  cannabis  and  LSD — we  would  see  that  it  has  not  been  easy 
for  men  to  comport  themselves  with  the  best  of  rational,  let  alone  scientific 
skill  in  these  areas.  Judgments  and  assertions,  then,  have  to  be  continuously 

The  sorting  of  the  intrinsic  patterns  of  drug  effects  from  their  varied  elabo- 
rations presents  difficulties.  For  example,  the  social  use  of  a  drug  cannot  tell 
us  infallibly  about  the  basic  pattern  of  its  effects.  What  Barron,  Jarvick  and 
Bunnell  (5)  called  "drug-induced  ego  disruptions"  refers  to  a  wide  range  of 
substances  which  can  provide  a  change  of  scene,  a  moment  of  being  out  of 
it,  a  holiday  from  the  constrictions  of  reality.  A  wide  variety  of  agents  can 
shift  our  normal  engagement  with  the  world,  producing  an  altered  state.  This 
state  in  intself  may  promote  the  release  of  effects  and  be  welcomed  for  its 
novelty  value  as  a  remarkable  trip  from  reality.  Etched  upon  it  may  be  a 
specific  pattern  of  the  drug.  I  believe  that  LSD  extends  and  accents  this 
primary  ego  state  in  a  salient  and  sustained  way. 

A  second  complication  is  that  sufficiently  strong  motives  can  capture  any 
opportune  occasion  in  order  to  generate  uninhibited  or  cultist  behavior. 
Thirdly,  in  case  a  cultural  pattern  of  drug  effects  seems  at  first  glance  invari- 
ant, the  powerful  role  of  set  and  setting  should  be  assessed ;  for  example,  the 
exclusive  "Mexican-ness"  of  Hoffman's  visions  when  he  first  ingested  psilocy- 
bin  (derived  from  a  Mexican  mushroom)  is  hardly  ascribable  to  a  specific 
chemical  action. 

Pharmacological  factors  such  as  dose,  route  and  dosage  schedule,  and  the 
form  and  preparation  of  the  active  agent  are  also  critical.  For  brevity,  can- 
nabis can  be  taken  as  an  example :  by  and  large,  the  more  potent  the  prepara- 
tion— the  more  concentrated  the  form  of  the  resin — ^the  more  psychedelic  or 
psychotomimetic  the  effects.  Panic  states,  temporary  psychosis  and  paranoid 
episodes  similar  to  those  observed  currently  with  LSD,  occur  more  f  reqeuntly 
with  the  more  potent  preparations  illicitly  available  in  India  {16,  17)  and 
the  Near  East  (7) .  Many  abusers  in  Morocco  and  India  are  found  in  settings 
not  unlike  our  alcoholic  skid  rows.  The  weaker  marijuana  used  here  has  dras- 
tically fewer  such  effects.  Inhalation  or  ingestion  alters  the  intensity  of  effects 

The  pattern  of  use  of  LSD  is  determined  in  part  by  the  dose-dependent 
tolerance  induced  {39,  1^7,  95) .  Three  or  four  days  are  required  for  its  full 
development  or  its  full  loss :  daily  dosage  leads  to  dramatically  diminished 
effects  unless  the  dose  is  considerably  increased.  "Cyclicity"  in  tolerance  {53) 
is  seen  with  higher  daily  dosages;  e.g.,  tolerance  is  lost  and  regained  with 


every  eighth  or  ninth  consecutive  daily  dose.  After  a  single  dose  there  is 
"psychological  satiation,"  as  McGlothlin  calls  it,  which  is  characteristic  for 
any  single  LSD  experience :  one  dose  is  emotionally  sufficient,  if  not  exhaust- 
ing, for  most  people  for  quite  a  period — days,  or  weeks,  or  years. 

If  we  wish  to  discern  some  universally  basic  pattern  of  effects  {37),  we 
also  have  to  consider  at  what  level  drug  effects  on  behavior  can  intrinsically 
be  analysed.  Dubos  {27) ,  expressed  the  fundamental  notion  that  even  a  highly 
selective  drug  would  react  with  some  structure  other  than  the  one  for  which 
it  was  designed ;  absolute  selectivity  for  effects  is  a  chemical  impossibility. 
This  does  not  mean  that  there  are  not  intrinsically  discrete  chemical  controls 
or  that  chemical  reactions  within  cells  are  not  under  exquisite  feedback  regu- 
lations, but  the  control  of  integrated  sequences  of  behavior  remains  a  complex 
problem.  Yet,  in  view  of  the  surprising  associations  and  dissociations  of 
which  the  nervous  system  is  capable  (for  example,  phenothiazine-induced 
sedation  in  the  presence  of  motor  excitation)  it  is  not  inconceivable  that 
chemicals  exist  which  can  produce  desirable  modifications  in  components  of 
the  pattern  of  effects  of  a  drug  such  as  LSD.  The  fact  that  the  indole  and 
catechol  derivatives  which  are  psychotomimetic  induce  a  response  in  brain 
(altering  brain  serotonin  metabolism  and  probably  increasing  the  utilization 
of  norepinephrine  {33,  SJf.,  35,  36,  38,  J(3) ,  that  most  of  these  show  cross  toler- 
ance, and  that  agents — such  as  atropine  or  Ditran — producing'a  deleriod  type 
of  response  {33,  58,  93,  94-),  affect  brain  acetylcholine  indicates  that  we  are 
dealing  with  agents  for  which  some  exquisite  biological  specificity  exists; 
indeed  this  is  the  basic  reason  for  scientific  interest  in  the  mode  of  action  of 
the  drug,  a  search  that  could  lead  to  critical  neurochemical  mechanisms.  Each 
of  the  brain  monaamines  appears  to  be  lawfully  related  to  specific,  largely 
polysynaptic  neural  systems  and  it  is  not  unlikely  that  with  autoradiography 
{90),  and  fluorescence  and  electron  microscopy  that  our  knowledge  of  the 
involved  neural  systems  and  chemical  changes  induced  by  these  drugs  can  be 
more  finely  specified  {33,  38). 

Finally  it  will  be  noted  that  most  of  the  drugs  mentioned  in  this  conference 
have  had  multiple  therapeutic  usages,  from  carbuncles  to  mania.  The  Navaho 
clearly  seek  the  cure  of  all  manner  of  both  physical  and  psychic  ailments 
with  peyote.  This  fact  means  that  the  ethnologist  must  be  wary  of  the  extent 
to  which  reported  effects  are  specifically  drug  related.  The  distinction  be- 
tween symptoms  of  organic  dysfunction  and  those  of  bodily  discomfort  in 
various  psychic  states  is  never  easy.  We  see  this  confusion  in  small  children ; 
there  are  quite  probably  differences  in  social  classes,  personalities,  and  cul- 
tures in  the  extent  to  which  the  body  becomes  a  "sentient  referent"  for  the 
consequences  of  social  and  personal  anguish.  This  surely  could  lead  to  con- 
founding reports  of  drug  effects. 

Apparently  where  drugs  can  disrupt  normal  ego  functions  they  can  com- 
prise a  polytherapeutics  for  the  so-called  functional  factor  in  illness.  How 
this  is  accomplished  is  not  clear;  perhaps  through  an  ultimate  shift  of 
attention  as  in  hypnosis ;  or  through  the  effects  of  powerful  wishes  for  cure — 
which  observably  dampen  anxiety.  Something  as  nebulous  and  as  potent  as 
faith  and  confidence  is  involved.  Wlien  we  ingest  a  drug  because  of  anxiety 


or  weakness,  there  is  a  monotonous  regularity  in  the  "non-empirical"  inter- 
pretations which  may  be  evoked;  psychologically,  the  drug  is  seen  as  a 
power,  either  one  evoking  terror  (poison  or  devils)  or  one  producing  sexual, 
physical  or  spiritual  strength  leading  to  salvation  or  healing.  Accordingly, 
in  reviewing  the  folk  usages  of  drugs  for  therapeutic  clues  and  in  obtaining 
discriminative  information  on  the  effects  of  drugs  on  patterns  of  behavior, 
we  have  to  distinguish  the  general  range  of  effects  of  ego  disruption  and 
what  is  commonly  called  the  power  of  suggestion.  Doing  so,  we  can  more 
confidently  focus  on  what  is  specific  about  the  so-called  hallucinogenic  drugs, 
including  the  ways  in  which  they  do  and  do  not  enhance  suggestion. 

The  Definition  of  a  "Psychedelic"  Dimension 

Comparative  psychopharmacological  studies  of  the  various  potent  drugs 
would  lead  to  a  better  appreciation  of  the  fundamental  dimensions  of  behav- 
ior, of  the  ground  out  of  which  complex  but  related  behaviors  emerge.  That 
element  contributed  by  specifiG  drug  effects  to  the  entire  picture  of  drug 
usage  will  require  more  focus.  Given  such  reservations,  it  seems  that  the 
recurrent  theme  in  historical  records  is  that  certain  drugs  are  compellingly 
related  to  learning,  to  self-revelation,  and  that  they  are  involved  in  some 
mystical,  often  ritual,  use.  McGlothlin  notes  that  the  American  Indian  often 
states  that  "peyote  teaches."  He  does  not  find  this  major  theme  running 
through  accounts  of  marijuana  usage  [69).  Again  the  potent  preparations 
of  cannabis  are  an  exception  and  the  milder  preparations  have  been  used  to 
enhance  contemplative  states  as  well  as  for  a  "high".  Apparently,  there  is 
a  continuum  of  effects  along  the  dimension  of  self -revealing  and  ritual  usages. 

To  the  extent  that  there  are  classes  of  agents  which  starkly  reveal  some- 
thing about  the  depths  or  the  dimensions  of  the  mind — exposing  these  dimen- 
sions to  our  attention — we  can  say  that  both  use  and  abuse  stem  from  our 
amazed  response  to  the  subjective  experience  revealed  by  these  drug  states. 
If  this  is  what  Humphrey  Osmond  meant  by  the  term  "psychedelic"  or 
"mind  manifesting"  for  drugs  such  as  LSD,  it  is  an  apt  though  not  novel 
description.  There  is  a  wide  range  of  contexts — including  clinical  disorder 
in  which  states  of  heightened  awareness  with  varying  degrees  of  mental 
clarity  occur,  and  a  variety  of  initiating  causes.  The  mode  of  functioning 
and  experiencing  called  psychedelic  reflects  an  innate  capacity  (like  the 
dream)  of  which  the  human  mind,  in  a  general  sense,  is  capable  {10) .  The 
fact  that  a  certain  class  of  drugs  so  sharply  compels  this  level  of  function  is 
what  so  intrigues  the  behavioral  scientist. 

A  rather  famous  and  wordy  Harvard  professor  noted  that  drug-induced 
intoxication  "expands,  unites  and  says  yes  ...  it  makes  .  .  .  (man)  for  the 
moment . . .  one  with  truth."  William  James  {JjS)  went  on  to  write  that  parted 
from  normal  consciousness  "...  by  the  flimsiest  of  screens,  there  lie  potential 
forms  of  consciousness  entirely  different  .  .  .  apply  the  requisite  stimulus 
and  at  a  touch  they  are  there  in  all  their  completeness  .  .  .  somewhere  (they) 
have  their  field  of  application  and  adaptation.  .  .  .  How  to  regard  them  is 


the  question  .  .  .  they  may  determine  attitudes  through  they  cannot  furnish 
formulas  and  open  a  region  though  they  fail  to  give  a  maf!'''  (Italic  mine.) 

Many  authors  have  stressed  that  the  human  mind  is  apparently  built  with 
mechanisms  for  constancy  with  which  to  structure  and  use  these  fluid  and 
irrational  components.  Indeed  in  the  most  systematic  series  of  neuropsycho- 
logical drug  studies  extant — those  of  Heinrich  Kliiver  (5^)  with  mescaline — 
the  author  concludes  with  speculations  about  the  drug's  differential  action 
on  those  subcortical  areas  of  brain  which  are  characterized  by  emotionality 
and  variability  and  those  anchoring  sensory-motor  systems  which  aid  in 
constancy.  The  question  perhaps  is  not  so  much  expanding  the  mind — it  is 
expanded  enough — but  to  see  if  there  are  drugs  which  can  enhance  a  better 
and  more  creative  coordination  among  these  so-called  regions. 

The  Drug  State  and  its  Consequences 

So  whether  we  set  out  on  a  personal  or  on  a  scientific  research  effort  to 
discover  and  explicate  this  order  of  the  mind,  whether  we  examine  it  by 
introspection  or  examine  its  effects  on  natives,  patients  and  others,  we  embark 
on  a  search  which  is  intrinsically  difficult  and  fraught  with  misunderstand- 
ing. One  can  expect  nothing  else  if  we  attemj^t  to  deal  with  the  irrational.  In 
any  event,  we  shall  try  to  describe  a  multipotential  state  which,  in  its  most 
general  sense,  can  underwrite  a  variety  of  outcomes :  religious  feeling  and 
conversions,  states  of  hyper-perception  leading  to  inspirational  insights,  to 
psychosis,  to  exalted  states  or  to  behavior  or  value  change. 

The  more  we  can  grasp  some  of  the  intrinsic  features  of  this  state,  the  more 
we  will  be  able  to  understand  some  of  its  variable  outcomes.  So  if  we  had 
little  experience  with  drugs,  we  might  still  be  able  to  predict  their  con- 
sequences and  understand,  for  example,  why  these  drugs  might  be  properly 
called,  among  other  ascriptions,  "cultogenic  agents."  Some  of  the  modes  of 
experience — the  styles — which  characterize  the  drug  experience  seem  fre- 
quently to  be  linked  to  the  outcome  or  to  the  style  of  life  commonly 
centered  around  drug  taking:  whether  this  "hang-over"  of  drug  effects 
is  learning  or  reinf  ormement  of  the  ongoing  trend  of  goals  and  adaptions, 
or  based  on  more  complex  variables  and  mechanisms  is  not  known. 

Some  Features  of  the  Drug  State 

The  sequence  of  effects  following  the  usual  doses  has  been  described 
elsewhere  {4-S,  78) .  During  the  first  four  and  half  hours  there  is  generally 
a  clear  cut  self  recognition  of  effects — an  internal  "T.V.  show"  which  is 
followed  by  another  four  or  five  hour  period  in  which  a  subjective  sense 
of  change  is  not  marked  but  during  which  heightened  self  centeredness, 
ideas  of  reference  and  a  certain  "apartness"  are  observed.  At  12^8  hours 
after  drug  ingestion  there  may  or  may  not  be  some  let-down  and  slight 
fatigue.  There  is  no  craving  for  a  drug  to  relieve  this  if  it  occurs  and  no 


true  physiological  withdrawal,  as  is  the  case  with  opiates,  alcohol,  sedatives, 
and  certain  tranquilizers. 

It  is  the  intense  experience  without  clouded  consciousness — the  heightened 
"spectator  ego"  witnessing  the  excitement,  which  is  characteristic  for  these 
drugs  in  usual  dosages.  Thus  there  is  a  split  of  the  self — a  portion  of  which 
is  a  relatively  passive  monitor  rather  than  an  active,  focusing  and  initiating 
force— and  a  portion  of  which  receives  vivid  experiences.  Some  people 
seem  to  repeat  this  long  after  the  drug  state;  standing  apart  from  life  or 
relying  on  the  group  to  direct  events,  they  turn  away  from  the  prosaic 
world — or  else  are  turned  away  by  society,  as  well  as  turned  on  by  the 
drug.  They  may  find  a  clique  or  a  group  which  tolerates  this  disposition. 

During  the  drug  state,  awareness  becomes  intensely  vivid  while  self- 
control  over  input  is  remarkably  diminished ;  thus  there  is  the  lurking  threat 
of  loss  of  inner  control — loss  of  control  of  integral  stability — of  the  "dying 
of  the  ego"  so  often  reported  in  bad  trips  or  in  phases  of  mystical  experiences 
with  the  drug.  In  the  drug  state,  customary  boundaries  become  fluid  and 
the  familiar  becomes  novel  and  portentous.  Events  take  on  a  trajectory  of 
their  own;  qualities  become  intense  and  gain  a  life  of  their  own;  redness 
is  more  interesting  than  the  object  which  is  red;  meaningfulness  more 
important  than  what  is  specifically  meant ;  connotations  balloon  into  cosmic 
allusiveness ;  the  limits  of  sobriety  are  lost.  The  very  definition  of  the 
importance  of  the  external  world  shifts  when  most  mental  activity  is  absorbed 
either  in  monitoring  the  novelty  of  experience  or  in  maintaining  the  integrity 
of  the  self.  And,  after  the  drug  state,  we  may  find  more  tolerance  for 
ambiguity  and  a  diminished  readiness  for  the  quick  answer;  we  also  caji 
find  an  associated  inability  to  decide,  to  discriminate,  to  make  commit- 
ments. Spindler  reported  the  latter  as  a  Rorschach  pattern  in  certain  Indian 
peyote  users  (SO).  Such  a  tendency  to  avoid  distinctions  could  lead  to 
alienation  and  retreatism,  even  if  these  were  not  pre-existing  traits  (as  they 
often  are) .  A  certain  isolation,  or  sense  of  it,  tends  to  occur  as  a  trait  in  many 
drug  experimenters ;  the  after-effects  may  emphasize  the  pre-existing  traits. 
For  many  the  drug  experience  may  represent  a  beginning  which  without 
luck  or  expertise,  cannot  easily  come  to  a  useful  conclusion;  neurotic  acts 
also  have  been  viewed  as  misguided  attempts  at  self  cure.  Thus  many  reported 
immediate  after  effects  of  LSD — both  good  and  bad — could  depend  largely 
on  the  motive  for  taking  the  drug  and  in  fact  could  be  transient  rather  than 

In  any  event,  when  portentous  implications  and  hidden  meanings  per- 
petually contaminate  the  response  to  the  explicit  signs  and  conventions 
of  everyday  life,  "focus"  and  goal  directed  efficiency  are  usually  impaired. 
Since  judgment  is  not  enhanced  during  the  drug  state  and  since  isolation 
or  apartness  (even  when  sanctioned  by  a  minority  group)  bring  their  own 
problems,  it  is  clear  that  persons  who  continually  overvalue  the  modes  of 
experience  of  the  drug  state  could  develop  patterns  of  poor  practical  judg- 
ment. The  consequences  of  long-term  and  frequent  use  of  the  drug — involv- 
ing probably  5-15  percent  of  those  experimenting  with  LSD — would  prob- 
ably have  to  be  evaluated  in  this  context. 


Immediacy,  Novelty  and  Creativity 

In  the  drug  state,  the  experience  of  compelling  immediacy  diminishes 
the  normal  importance  of  past  and  future.  One's  organized  anticipation 
of  time  dissolves  (which  may  incidentally  be  why,  when  properly  given, 
the  drug  can  replace  narcotics  in  dying  cancer  patients) .  It  also  is  related 
to  the  overvaluation  of  "nowness,"  the  fickle  pursuit  of  the  novel  apparent 
in  certain  youth  subcultures  {76,  84-).  The  ability  to  see  old  and  familiar 
events  in  a  new  light  is  a  facet  of  the  shift  in  organized  anticipations  and 
equally  a  facet  in  the  poorly  understood  processes  related  to  creativity.  The 
impairment  of  goal  directed  efficiency  also  carries  with  it  the  impairment 
of  integrative  and  synthetic  functions  and  abilities.  Thus  the  mere  mergings 
of  sensory  objects  (the  synesthesias,  the  plastic  rearrangements  or  the  clear 
focusing  upon  fine  details  or  usually  disregarded  elements)  is  hardly  the 
same  as  an  organized  building  and  arrangement  in  which  "boundaries"  are, 
at  some  jimcture,  essential.  Creativity  requires  some  use  of  the  drug-induced 
facility  for  seeing  new  meanings ;  but  there  is  nothing  about  the  drug  effect 
which  specifically  enhances  this  synthetic  and  organizing  facility.  Indeed 
as  we  shall  stress,  the  need  for  synthesis — ^not  the  ability  to  synthesize — is 
what  is  enhanced  in  the  drug  state. 

"Cidtogenic"  Actions 

An  important  feature  of  the  state  is  an  enhanced  dependence  upon  the 
environment  for  structure  and  support  as  well  as  enhanced  vulnerability  to 
the  surrounding  milieu.  With  the  loss  of  boundaries,  persons  or  a  group  are 
used  for  such  elemental  functions  as  control — for  helping  one  to  know  what 
is  inside  and  what  is  outside,  for  comfort  and  for  binding  and  balancing  the 
fragmenting  world  (10).  When  one  is  absorbed  either  in  monitoring  the 
novelty  of  experience  or  in  maintaining  self  integrity  the  major  changes  in 
the  external  world  will  be  overlooked  or  slight  changes  will  assume  a  critical 
role.  Persons  or  objects  in  the  environment  have  positive  or  negative  value 
in  terms  of  quite  elemental  functions :  e.g.  as  threats  or  as  anchors  in  main- 
taining control  (quite  as  in  the  so-called  psychotic  transference) .  Persons  are 
self-centeredly  seen  as  objects — not  to  be  related  with  nor  evaluated  in  their 
own  right — but  either  to  be  clung  to  or  to  be  contemplated  in  terms  of  what 
essentially  is  a  self  centered,  esthetic  or  ideologic  frame  of  reference.  At 
best  this  narcissistic  reworking  of  one's  relationship  to  others  and  to  one's 
own  ambitions  can  lead  to  outcomes  which  are  socially  valued — wisdom, 
humor,  perspective — but  such  internal  syntheses  never  guarantee  socially 
pleasant  behavior  (e.g.,  non-competitive  behavior  or  conduct  which  takes  an 
ideal  regard  for  others  into  accoimt  (54).  In  other  words,  the  claims  for  a 
different  perspective  have  to  be  evaluated  both  in  terms  of  how  this  is 
integrated  in  the  life  and  in  the  internal  rearrangements  of  values  of  the 
user;  one  need  not  argue  with  the  asserted  shift  in  values  (although  even 
this  can  be  monitored  (72) ),  but  the  consequences  of  this  can  be  assessed. 


Thus  with  the  dissolving  boundaries  of  self  and  outside,  with  the  fusion 
of  self  and  surroundings  some  of  the  strain  between  harsh  authority  and 
personal  strivings  can  for  the  moment  be  transcended  or  dissolved.  At  the 
same  time  there  is  a  leaning  on  others  for  structure  and  control  and  hence, 
when  the  drugs  are  taken  in  a  group  setting,  the  breach  with  reality  repre- 
sented by  the  drugs  can  be  filled  by  the  directive  mystique  and  support  of 
the  group.  This  is,  in  part,  why  I  have  termed  these  drugs  "cultogenic." 

"Model  Psychosis"  in  the  Drug  Experience 

The  elements  of  a  model  psychosis  are  present.  By  model  we  do  not 
mean  identity;  rather  we  mean  an  approach  to  certain  processes  which  are 
present  to  some  extent  both  in  the  drug  state  and  psychoses ;  the  conditions 
for  either  state  have  similarities  and  obvious  differences  (just  as  do  dreams 
and  psychosis  (4-^)).  For  example,  what  is  impinging  on  an  ongoing  per- 
ception is  a  vivid  memory  of  what  has  just  been  perceived ;  these  co-existing 
images  can  compete  for  attention  and  thus  give  rise  to  illusions.  These  can 
be  immaginatively  elaborated  into  hallucinations.  Similarly,  past  memories 
can  emerge  vividly,  competing  for  the  status  of  current  reality.  The  failure 
to  suppress  the  prior  perception  or  memory  or  thought  characterizes  what 
Bleuler  called  "double  registration"  in  schizophrenia  or  what,  in  Rorschach 
parlance,  is  called  contamination.  Similarly  the  failure  of  identities  and  cate- 
gories to  be  maintained  underlies  most  of  the  descriptions  of  paralogic  in 
schizophrenia.  The  capacity  to  direct  one's  focus  is  impaired;  allocation  of 
the  source  of  a  feeling,  a  sound,  a  sight,  or  a  thought  becomes  difficult  since 
inside  and  outside  become  fused.  Accordingly  there  are  frequent  "projec- 
tions" or  misconceptions  of  motives.  This  tendency  is  reinforced  when  one 
must  exercise  energy  to  account  for  slight  changes  in  the  environment.  It 
of  course  bears  upon  our  thinking  about  any  psychosis  to  recognize  that  pri- 
mary or  secondary  shifts  in  the  elemental  ego  functions  of  discrimination 
underlie  a  range  of  symptoms. 

Similarly  effects  can  be  enhanced  under  the  drug  state  but  are  difficult  to 
specify  since  several  contrary  feelings  co-exist  or  fluctuate — reminiscent  of 
ambivalence.  Thus  euphoria  mixed  with  tension  may  be  seen.  Laughing  and/ 
or  crying  in  the  first  three  hours  are  not  uncommon.  Subjects  later  refer  to 
the  total  state  as  a  pleasant-unpleasant  experience.  However  these  expe- 
riences are  represented,  they  are  evolved  from  a  ground  work  entailing  a 
co-existence,  heightening,  and  fragmenting  of  component  urges  and  feelings. 
With  care,  one  observes  that  preceeding  this  there  is  a  primary  need  for 
elemental  tension-discharge — a  welling  up  which  requires  laughing  or  crying 
for  relief.  Subjects  have  to  laugh  or  cry  and  they  then  seem  to  find  the 
appropriate  setting  to  rationalize  this ;  the  cognitive  and  structural  aspects 
of  affect  seem  to  follow  the  need  for  discharge. 

Thus  the  enhanced  value  and  intense  attention  placed  on  the  self,  the 
"double  registrations"  the  ambivalence,  heightened  tension  and  diminished 
control  all  can  represent  the  primary  symptoms  of  a  psychosis.  The  appear- 
ance of  peak  experiences  (or  acute  psychedelic  experiences)  in  psychosis  has 


262-016  0-67— 8 

long  been  documented  (7(9,  Ifi^  67).  Thus  we  have  with  these  drugs  at  least 
a  tool  with  which  to  study  the  genesis  and  sequence  of  a  number  of  familiar 
phenomena  in  psychiatry.  Whether  this  can  lead  us  to  a  better  sorting  and 
description  of  the  varied  elements  which  are  present  in  the  range  of  clinical 
disorders  is  yet  an  unanswered  question;  it  is  for  example,  obvious  that 
differences  in  outcome  of  LSD  states  depend  upon  specific  prior  strengths  as 
well  as  varying  circumstances.  These  various  elements  may  also  be  relevant 
in  the  phenomena  and  outcomes  we  encounter  in  clinical  psychiatry. 

Adaptations  in  the  Drug  Experience 

Some  persons  endure  all  this  without  evident  harm.  The  spectator  ego  can 
simply  be  interested  in  the  reversal  of  figure  and  ground,  the  visual  tricks, 
or — with  higher  doses — the  spectator  is  entranced  or  totally  absorbed.  The 
experiencing  ego  can — especially  with  increasing  dosage — be  overwhelmed. 
At  any  level,  defensiveness  can  appear;  the  spectator  shuts  his  eyes  and  a 
blind  struggle  for  control  may  dominate.  There  are  different  modes  of  cop- 
ing with  the  drug  state  which  could  be  called  protective.  One  protection  is 
not  to  fight  the  experiences  during  the  drug  state.  An  upsurge  of  the  tradi- 
tional defensive  operations  may  lead  to  temporary  panic  even  in  relatively 
stable  people.  This  has  been  reported  both  in  the  LSD  and  peyote  cults,  and 
has  been  observed  by  medical  therapists. 

Most  people  working  with  the  drug  (either  licitly  or  illicitly)  note  that 
unstable  surroundings  or  confused  motives  may  lead  to  "bad  trips."  The 
attitudes  under  which  the  drug  is  taken  are  important.  The  Indians  of  the 
Native  American  Church  emphasize  sincerity,  and  the  desire  to  learn,  and 
they  link  bad  peyote  experiences  with  the  presence  of  aggression  and  com- 
petition rather  than  the  setting  of  sincerity  and  brotherly  love  and  a  willing- 
ness to  learn.  It  is  striking  that  when  self  examination  or  confrontation 
with  internal  problems  is  the  motive  for  drug-taking,  effects  are  sometimes 
bad.  When  problems  are  aptly  externalized  or  shared  there  is  less  panic 
and  subsequent  upset.  Thus  a  certain  yielding  and  surrender  of  ambition 
and  personal  autonomy  helps  some  individuals  to  have  a  good  experience, 
but  this  requires  if  not  group  support  a  certain  personal  strength,  or  at 
least  a  facility.  It  also  requires  stable  groups. 

Some  people  achieve  an  overall  stability  by  a  disposition  to  react  with  an 
astounded  pleasure  to  the  whole  flux  of  events.  Others  are  encouraged  or 
equipped  to  transcend  the  fragmented  disparate  elements,  letting  them  flow 
into  the  sway  of  a  mystique,  or  letting  them  be  steered  by  latent  guiding 
interests  or  memories.  Thus  all  that  occurs  is  given  a  tone — or  a  very  diffuse 
direction.  With  higher  dosages  and  the  increasing  loss  of  the  capacity  for 
detailed  focusing,  the  importance  of  guiding  "sets"  (music,  mystique,  af- 
fective expectations  such  as  the  doctrine  of  boundless  love)  is  enhanced. 

The  drug  experience  is  compelling  and  hard  to  convey  but  incredibly  vivid, 
and  the  extent  to  which  the  experience  of  a  specific  "trip"  is  related  to  out- 
come requires  finer  study.  So  too  does  the  fact  that  one  good  trip  does  not 
predict  a  second.  Nevertheless  the  primary  changes  are  the  background 


state  from  which  a  number  of  outcomes  and  adaptations  ensue — adaptations 
hoth  during  and  after  the  drug  experience.  No  doubt  the  rearrangements  of 
reality  which  occur  during  this  state  produce  a  memorable  experience,  but 
one  is  reminded  of  Sidney  Cohen's  remark  that  most  people  get  what  they 
deserve  or  what  they  are  equipped  at  the  time  to  experience  as  modified  by 
set,  equipment  and  setting  {21). 

The  Need  for  Synthesis 

Anyone  who  has  experienced  this  intense  episode  must  come  to  deal  with 
it.  Our  dreams  also  are  an  episode  in  a  sequence  of  states  which  we  usually 
can  somehow  integrate  into  the  normal  fabric  of  living ;  similarly  something 
must  now  be  done  with  the  total  drug  experience — nightmare,  illusion  or 
ecstasy.  Some  borrow  stability  from  ready-made  explanations.  Still  others 
will  decide  that  the  sense  of  cosmic  comprehension  is  equivalent  to  mastery. 
They  will  tend  to  deny  the  anxiety  about  the  loss  or  potential  loss  of  control. 
In  any  event,  when  such  a  profound  breach  with  normal  functioning  occurs, 
there  is  some  need  to  synthesize  and  integrate  this  experience,  to  represent 
and  to  cope  with  it  in  some  way. 

Some  individuals  will  isolate  it;  some  will  set  it  aside  in  an  attempt  to 
master  it  and  still  others,  lacking  any  other  means  of  mastery,  will  be  com- 
pelled repeatedly  and  unexpectedly,  to  confront  what  was  experienced.  We 
see  this  in  students  who  come  in  for  help  weeks  after  a  trip. 

In  others  the  breakdown  of  those  constancies  and  habits  which  normally 
smooth  over  the  disparate  details  of  our  perceptions  and  actions  can  persist 
in  benign  ways.  One  scientist  experienced  his  peripheral  vision  to  be  en- 
hanced during  the  drug  state ;  it  is  not  uncommon  that  there  is  an  equivalence 
of  value  for  what  is  at  the  periphery  and  what  is  normally  perceived  at 
the  center  of  the  virsual  field.  He  commuted  daily,  reading  during  the  trip. 
For  months  after  the  drug,  he  was  bothered  by  the  telephone  poles  which 
flashed  by  his  train  window.  He  could  no  longer  suppress  what  normally 
is  background  rather  than  a  compelling  figure.  Similarly,  the  unconscious 
"background"  to  thoughts  and  feelings  can  emerge.  (There  are  numerous 
anticipatory  sets  or  constancies  which  operate  to  keep  the  body  oriented  in 
space  and  ready  to  meet  the  environment  as  we  expect  to  experience  it; 
the  mind  provides  constancy  wherever  the  sense  organs  deal  with  variability. 
We  anticipate  or  correct  for  the  images  on  our  retina  to  keep  the  world 
stable  and  ordered;  the  hand  stretched  8  inches  before  one,  may  appear 
small  though  on  the  retina  or  camera  it  is  large.  Coming  off  a  boat  one  may 
still  waddle  anticipating  the  roll  of  the  ship.)  LSD  appears  to  affect  such 
perceptual  anticipations  and  more  complex  regulatory  systems.  It  rear- 
ranges our  ideas  of  order.  It  is  striking  that  prior  to  psychedelic  ideology 
and  experiments  with  self-therapy,  mescaline  produced  more  "perceptual" 
than  self-revealing  experiences,  but  the  mode  of  breakdown  of  constancies 
is  similar  whether  the  self  or  perceptions  are  a  referent. 

The  intensity  of  the  drug  experience  manifest  in  the  change  of  con- 
stancies can  lead  to  a  number  of  repetitive  behaviors.  Gordon  Allport  noted 


that,  once  the  vividly  religious  state  is  experienced,  one  seeks  throughout 
life  to  recapture  its  inspiration  (3).  The  search  for  synthesis  may  take  the 
form  of  attempts  to  re-experience  the  intensity  of  elements  within  the  drug 
experience  in  order  to  master  it.  The  classic  example,  of  course,  is  the  trau- 
matic neurosis  in  which,  following  a  traumatic  episode  in  the  trenches,  the 
soldier  recurrently  dreams  the  nightmare — apparently  in  order  to  master 
it.  This  has  been  noted  in  every  major  theory  of  psychopathology  since 
the  19th  century.  The  hypnoid  state  described  by  Breuer  was  one  of  two 
causes  which  he  and  Freud  offered  for  mental  symptoms.  Put  simply,  in  a 
state  of  altered  consciousness  where  control  over  awareness  is  diminished, 
there  is  no  way  to  bind  the  intensities  experienced  and  symptoms  may  ensue. 
Similarly,  in  growth  and  development,  many  bits  and  pieces  of  impressions, 
many  intense  experiences — experiences  which  for  the  child  are  intense — 
have  to  be  organized  in  the  ongoing  stream  of  developing  psychological 
control,  and  often  this  fails. 

Repetitive  symptoms — such  as  acting  out — may  be  viewed  as  misguided 
attempts  to  give  structure  to  these  pre-verbal  impressions  and  intensities — 
to  restore  or  find  constancies  and  boundaries.  Some  experience  a  "loss"  mani- 
fest by  depression  and  an  urge  to  recapture  the  illusionary  world  of  the  drug. 
We  know  that  people  may  produce  vivid  consequences  or  experiences  in  order 
to  see  them  in  a  new  light.  These  are  experiences  which  are  presented  to  con- 
sciousness, but  what  often  is  lacking  is  the  element  of  guidance,  correction, 
reflection  and  structure  which  leads  to  authentic  self-mastery ;  this  may  be  the 
chief  source  of  danger  of  LSD — the  lack  of  structure  and  autonomy  and  the 
traumatic  and  potent  intensity ! 

Thus  acting  out  behavior  with  or  without  a  drug  often  compels  control, 
correction  and  guidance,  and  appears  as  a  provocative  accusation  against 
authority.  The  young  do  not  merely  "turn  on"  themselves  but  seem  to  display 
great  anger  at  the  guides  whom  they  feel  failed  them  (indeed  the  prophets 
counsel  students  to  "turn  on"  their  parents — one  of  their  metaphors  which 
is  most  likely  not  to  be  concretely  interpreted) .  Displacing  the  total  experi- 
ence and  the  anxieties  inherent  in  it  by  attacks  upon  the  establishment,  they 
thereby  keep  a  link — and  a  very  strong  one — to  the  very  strictures  which 
had  previously  absorbed  them  (just  as  a  misbehaving  child  is  tied  to  his 
parents  by  evoking  their  involved  irritation  or  punishment).  Others  show 
delayed  panic,  depression  or  anxiety,  and  seek  out  friends  for  help,  and  still 
others  aggressively  talk  about  their  experience  as  if  they  were  trying  to  put 
it  together.  Some  kind  of  continuity  with  the  gap  in  reality  is  sought  for. 
The  bridge  may  be  a  book  as  it  was  with  Huxley,  a  silent  synthesis  or  change 
of  values  and  tastes,  or  the  understanding  of  a  group  or  person.  In  the 
Native  American  Church,  the  Indian  utilizes  all  these  elements — religious 
explanation  and  adherence,  specific  ceremonies  and  the  group  with  its  ide- 
ology— to  integrate  the  experience  which  serves  a  purpose  in  the  total  fabric 
of  his  life.  It  has  been  speculated  that  during  the  ceremonies,  by  borrowing 
the  strength  of  "father  peyote"  and  experiencing  an  enhancement  of  self,  he 
transcends  personal  anxiety  and  inadequacy.  Some  sects  are  tutored  to  ignore 
the  visions  and  disparate  elements  of  the  drug  state  to  achieve  this  higher 


cosmic  state.  The  Indian  does  not  accordingly  seek  a  simple  "high"  or  thrill 
with  the  drug  (i,  66, 86) . 

For  some,  denial  of  inadequacy  and  enhanced  omnipotence — delusional 
autonomy — may  lead  to  various  outcomes :  that  of  the  benevolent  and  foolish 
prophet,  or  the  defensive,  alienated  therapist,  angry  at  those  who  prevent  his 
curing  the  rest  of  the  world.  Indeed  we  must  seriously  wonder  why  those 
who  find  salvation  are  so  generous  and  so  ready  to  proselytize  and  adver- 
tise !  Implied  are  unsolved  problems  with  authority  figures.  In  any  event  it 
appears  that  salvation  often  involves  renunciation  of  previous  ties  and 
that  those  who  are  saved  must  repetitively  convince  others  in  order  to  dimin- 
ish their  own  doubt,  isolation  and  guilt.  At  best,  they  may  do  this  in  order  to 
reachieve  union  with  those  with  whom  they  have  been  separated  by  their 
unique  vision  and  experience,  and  to  synthesize  these  breaches  with  important 

The  Role  of  Groups  in  Synthesis 

We  have  referred  to  the  strain  between  the  exertion  of  personal  strivings 
for  autonomy  (i.e.,  needs  to  order  reality  and  influence  the  world)  and  in- 
ternal authority  (the  voice  of  conscience).  Certain  groups  seem  built  to 
absorb  this  strain.  Many  successful  self-help  groups  appear  to  be  peer  groups. 
With  such  arrangements  the  distance  between  authority  and  the  miscreant 
(reminiscent  of  that  between  parent  and  child)  is  diminished  and  so  too  is 
the  inner  tension.  The  cost  is  a  surrender  of  certain  order  of  autonomy  to  the 
group  and  dependence  upon  it.  It  may  be  less  painful  to  drop  pretense  and 
to  permit  less  masking  of  inadequacy  in  the  presence  of  uncritical  and  non- 
threatening  peers.  Of  course  there  may  also  be  a  tendency  to  externalize  the 
conflict  with  authority,  a  tendency  reinforced  by  peer-grouping.  Still  this 
can  permit  authentic  self  involvement  at  a  level  which  is  realistically  avail- 
able to  the  persons  involved. 

Ideally,  autonomy  and  involvement  might  mean  not  to  be  distracted  by 
arguments  with  authority ;  such  terms  should  connote  putting  oneself  in  the 
place  of  authority — not  imitatively — but  in  terms  of  real  commitments  in- 
volving risk,  initiative  and  responsibility.  To  some  extent  self-help  groups 
can  aid  members  to  move  in  these  directions.  Yet,  such  adjustments  mean 
relying  heavily  on  the  concrete  presence  and  reinforcement  of  a  sane  group 
which  shares  the  burdens  of  initiative.  This  is  not  always  achieved.  In  some 
chronic  users  one  sees  a  bland  impulsiveness — an  indifference  to  the  habitual 
and  customary  which  may  border  on  a  supercilious  posture  of  superiority. 
The  elect  of  many  cults  either  assume  the  attitude  or  the  outsider  feels  this  to 
be  the  attitude  of  those  who  know  something  he  does  not.  This  posture  has 
also  been  remarked  upon  in  the  American  Indian  peyote  users,  although  they, 
too  (as  with  the  Navaho),  are  often  subcultures  not  infrequently  at  odds 
with  established  groups  and  leaders  (1 ) . 

Group  sanctioning  of  the  drug  state  can  diminish  the  intensity  and  isola- 
tion ;  the  group  mystique  tends  to  give  integration  through  a  credible  rendi- 
tion, if  not  sanction  to  events  which  by  their  very  nature  cannot  easily  be 


translated  into  public  language.  The  mystique  may  not  be  more  descriptive 
of  the  drug  state  but  simply  apparently  precise  and  sufficiently  allusive  to 
serve  as  a  representation  of  and  compensation  for  the  breach  with  reality. 

Mystical  or  religious  representations  also  are  remarkably  apt  for  synthe- 
sizing the  experience.  Religion  relates  man  to  his  limits  while  taking  account 
of  his  boundlessness  ^vhich  occurs  in  all  aspects  of  this  realm  of  the  mind. 
It  may  be  that  religious  symbolism  aptly  represents  the  transformations 
characteristic  of  this  latent  part  of  the  mind.  Against  fragmentation  and 
directionlessness  something  coherent  lends  continuity  to  experience.  Against 
dread,  transcendent  love  can  prevail ;  loving  like  redness  can  apparently  be 
enhanced  and  is  remembered.  The  "lovingness"'  and  "strongness"'  of  a  parent 
can  be  parted  from  the  particular  persons  and  transcendentally  represented 
in  various  forms  of  power  ascribed  to  deities. 

Use  and  Abuse  of  Conversion 

There  are,  then,  a  number  of  features  of  this  multipotential  state  related 
to  its  intensity,  its  novelty,  its  boundlessness  which  account  for  some  of  the 
expectable  occurrences  within  it  and  some  of  the  expectable — and  observed — 
dangers  and  outcomes.  There  are  observations  about  the  uses  and  abuses  of 
religous  conversion  which  are  not  dissimilar  from  what  we  can  describe  in 
the  current  drug  scene. 

In  Clark's  topology  {W) ,  the  outcomes  can  be :  a  sudden  change  of  role — 
he  calls  this  abrupt  conversion.  Another  outcome  entails  an  allegiance  to 
values  rather  than  a  behavior  change ;  e.g.,  adolescents  who  are  converted  to 
their  parents'  religion.  Similarly  there  are  student  LSD  users  who  talk  like 
psychedelicists  but  continue  to  be  headed  for  a  career  of  suburbia  and  the 
office.  Gradual  conversion  entails  what  Clark  calls  role  assimilation  (and 
this  is  reminiscent  of  the  more  protracted  therapies).  There  are  clearly 
various  levels  of  personality  which  can  be  involved  either  in  the  drug  ex- 
perience or  in  conversion  experience.  Classifications  of  pathological  outcomes 
of  conversion  (including  irresponsibility  and  omniscience)  startlingly  re- 
semble patterns  we  see  with  LSD  {20,  88). 

Even  the  conversion  experience,  if  we  follow  Christiansen's  description 
{18),  is  not  dissimilar  from  that  described  by  therapists  who  have  worked 
with  LSD.  He  notes  a  pre-conversion  conflict  which  reaches  a  peak,  a  moment 
of  "giving  up"  (an  intention  to  cease  the  struggle)  which  can  be  followed 
by  an  opportunity  to  come  up  with  a  new  solution.  The  conflict  must  'become 
sufficiently  accessible  to  that  part  of  the  mind  which  can  organize  and 
synthesize  it  in  religious  terms.  If  this  did  not  happen  there  might  be  a 
confrontation  of  old  intensities  and  strivings  and  continuing  struggle  rather 
than  yielding  and  reworking  (very  much  as  we  described  in  the  instance 
of  acting  out  behavior) .  Such  struggles  in  which  past  experience  must  be 
disowned  yield  pathologically  defensive  behavior,  and  symptoms  easily  ensue ; 
there  would  be  a  lack  of  coherence  of  the  personality  which  the  conversion 
experience  might  achieve. 


LSD  in  Psychiatry 

There  are  a  number  of  psychotherapists  who  have  attempted  to  use  the 
loosening  of  associations  and  the  intense  experiencing  produced  by  the  drug 
in  order  to  influence  behavior  change.  Yet  the  history  of  LSD  therapy  by 
physicians  represents  a  picture  of  both  use  and  abuse.  In  the  late  1950's  many 
physicians  were  not  only  struck  by  the  drug-induced  phenomena,  but  ap- 
parently addled  by  them.  Perhaps  they  were  simply  jealous  of  the  subject 
when  they  insisted  upon  taking  the  drug  concurrently  with  him.  They  cer- 
tainly discovered  a  reality  of  the  mind,  but  it  was  a  region  of  mental  activity 
about  which  they  were  supposed  to  be  expert  prior  to  the  advent  of  these 
drugs.  When  a  therapist  in  our  culture  has  little  sense  of  intellectual  control 
over  the  events  he  is  monitoring,  we  are  dealing  with  a  healing  cult ;  what 
is  rational  about  therapy  is  our  obligation  to  study  and  control  that  with 
which  we  work.  Critical  observation  and  empathy  have  led  us  as  far  as  we 
are  in  our  present  dealing  with  schizophrenia ;  there  is  no  evidence  that  any 
further  progress  has  been  made  by  those  therapists  who  insisted  on  being 
drugged  themselves. 

There  are  a  number  of  ongoing  controlled  projects  in  this  country  and  a 
long  history  of  experience  with  the  use  of  LSD  in  therapy.  Two  major 
modes  of  treatment  prevail.  The  treatment  employed  by  many  European 
workers  (often  called  "psycholytic")  represents  a  method  by  which  certain 
defenses  are  breached.  With  a  strong  drug-enhanced  tie  to  the  therapist,  feel- 
ings and  memories  are  allowed  to  emerge  vividly  and  unforgetably  before 
the  eye  of  consciousness  and  their  strength  discharged.  The  events  are  later 
worked  over  with  care.  Dosages  are  regulated  in  part  by  the  capacity  of  the 
patient  to  steer  a  course  between  being  utterly  lost  on  the  one  hand  or  overly 
constrained  by  habitual  defenses  on  the  other.  A  kind  of  active  participation 
in  the  presence  of  a  general  loosening  is  sought.  The  need  for  a  certain 
autonomy  and  directiveness,  a  certain  inner  capacity  to  integrate  and  pull 
together  at  least  a  part  of  the  experience  is  recognized.  The  integration 
which  follows  is  a  collaborative  venture  requiring  the  active  participation 
and  the  output  of  the  patient  {2) .  Yet  how  to  reinforce  any  shifts  in  attitude 
which  occur  with  the  drug  without  running  the  risk  of  often  repeated  drug 
sessions  is  a  largely  unstudied  issue. 

In  the  so-called  psychedelic  therapies  as  they  are  now  being  tested,  there  is 
an  awareness  of  an  immense  amount  of  preparation,  of  salesmanship  with  an 
evangelical  tone  in  which  the  patient  is  confronted  with  hope  and  positive 
displays  of  it,  before  he  has  his  one  great  experience  with  very  high  doses  of 
drug.  The  experience  is  structured  by  music  and  by  confident  good  feelings. 
With  the  support  of  the  positive  therapist  throughout  this  experience,  the 
patient  is  encouraged  to  see  his  life  in  a  new  light,  to  think  of  his  future 
accordingly.  There  now  tends  to  be  a  rather  long  period  of  follow-up  and 
support  before  the  patient  is  discharged.  An  earlier  mode  of  intervention 
attempted  to  avoid  the  tangled  problems  of  relationship  between  therapist 
and  patient  with  one  single  high  dose  drug  session  as  the  chief  therapeutic 
contact;  the  current  approach  is  more  explicitly  ritualized  (in  the  model 


of  nativistic  movements) ,  and  the  person  and  attitude  of  the  therapist  tends 
not  to  be  analyzed  but  incorporated.  It  is  speculated  that  the  egocentric 
problems  of  the  alcoholic  may  be  specifically  tailored  for  this  ego- dissolving, 
ego-building  teclmique.  Other  approaches  lie  somewhere  between  these  two. 
It  is  interesting  that  peyote  cultures  also  report  cures  of  alcoholics,  but 
the  effects  may  not  persist  without  sustained  group  support  and  leadership. 
The  efficacy  and  selectivity  of  current  therapies  is  far  from  settled  and  re- 
search is  still  ongoinsf  (2) .  Obviously  careful  follow-up  is  essential,  since  the 
immediate  glow  which  occurs  with  drug-induced  personality  change  can  be 

Abuse  of  LSD 

I  have  noted  my  current  opinion  that  the  chief  abuse  of  LSD  is  irrespon- 
sible, alluring  and  provocative  advertising.  "We  are  surely  at  an  advanced 
enough  stage  of  our  culture  to  identify-  folly  and  even  to  study  it.  Professor 
McClelland  at  Harvard  (44)  noted  some  of  the  effects  upon  the  research  of 
the  psychedelic  fanatics  at  the  height  of  their  proselytising  in  the  early 
1960s.  He  documented  certain  features  of  their  research  which  appeared  to 
be  related  to  the  drug  state.  Of  course  whether  poor  research  is  to  be  con- 
sidered a  drug  abuse  is  a  moot  point,  but  some  of  the  features  noted  were  a 
high  opinion  of  their  own  proftmdity ;  dissociation  and  detaclmient — a  feel- 
ing of  being  above  and  beyond  the  normal  world  of  social  reality;  inter- 
personal insensitivity ;  omniscience  and  philosophical  naivete — a  simplistic 
satisfaction  in  visions.  Finally  he  noted  inipulsivity  which  might  be  seen  as 
intolerance  of  any  limits,  questions  or  skepticism,  let  alone  inability  to  predict 
the  consequences  of  irresponsible,  provocative  actions.  These  consequences 
of  drug  taking  observed  in  the  very  home  of  transcendentalism  have  been 
observed  in  other  settings ;  perhaps  we  are  delineating  one  mtrinsic  pattern 
of  outcome  of  extensive,  repeated  LSD  use.  TVliile  such  descriptions  may  give 
us  a  guide  for  future  research,  conclusive  and  analytical  studies  simply  are 
not  available. 

In  a  few  current  illicit  self-help  groups  the  drugs  surprisingly  are  used 
reportedly  to  achieve  a  conventional  outcome.  A  group  of  ex-convicts — 
allegedly — require  that  members  have  an  honest  job  before  becoming  part 
of  the  LSD-taking  religious  group.  Sunilarly  one  group  of  homosexuals  are 
reported  to  use  illicit  LSD  to  enliance  heterosexual  behavior.  Several  groups, 
recognizing  that  overly  frequent  use  might  have  insidious  and  profound 
effects  on  judgment  and  that  careless  use  can  lead  to  dangerous  panic,  have 
set  up  agencies  to  be  phoned  when  reqixired.  "We  seem  to  be  living  in  an  era 
when  many  practices  (half-way  houses,  group  therapies,  ''cathartic"  therapy) 
built  into  the  fabric  of  psychiatric  work  are  imitated  by  self-help  groups.  If 
these  lay  LSD  groups  leam  from  experience,  they  will  do  so  with  even  less 
guidance  and  self  critical  checks  than  the  professionals  have  had  in  coping 
with  adolescent  confusion  and  turmoil  and  even  the  more  serious  dysfimc- 
tions.  It  is  the  patient  who  pays  for  such  experimentation  by  the  gurus.  On 
the  other  hand,  other  organizations  such  as  Alcoholics  Anonymous  have 


continued  to  evolve  patterns  of  response  to  the  problems  with  which  they 
are  concerned  without  damage  to  their  adherents;  members  are  free  to  get 
whatever  professional  help  they  need.  The  discipline  of  abstention  and  the 
general  reality  orientation  of  this  group  is  important. 

From  the  evidence  available,  it  appears  that  users  who  end  up  in  hospitals 
with  prolonged  and  serious  psychoses  are  initially  a  quite  unstable  group. 
They  are,  in  any  event,  a  small  group.  More  frequently  one  sees  a  transient 
panic  occurring  during  the  drug  state,  from  which  recovery  is  generally 
rapid.  Others  who  have  come  to  the  attention  of  physicians  do  not  require 
hospitalization  but  often  seek  treatment  because  they  are  nervous  or  con- 
cerned about  having  taken  the  drug,  or  about  some  of  their  thoughts  and 
experiences  during  the  drug  state.  And  a  few  others  as  noted  may  have 
non-drug  induced  panics  some  weeks  after  the  drug  state  very  much  as  a 
bad  dream  recurs.  It  is  somewhat  easier  within  a  college  population  to  get 
some  gauge  on  the  prior  adjustment  of  the  students.  Certainly  there  are  a 
group  of  students,  even  some  of  the  repeaters,  who  appear  relatively  stable 

Motives  for  Use 

The  motives  for  LSD  use  are  varied.  Sociologists  refer  to  problems  of 
commitment  and  alienation  and  at  least  add  thereby  to  the  younger  genera- 
tion's verbal  mythology.  A  "need  to  feel" — to  gain  access  to  themselves  and 
others — a  pervasive  sense  of  being  constricted,  seems  to  characterize  some 
of  the  college  takers  I  have  studied.  In  a  recent  report  {9)  of  a  group  in 
which  Rorschach  and  other  studies  were  available,  this  theme  dominated 
even  though  outcomes  sharply  differed:  these  ranged  from  psychosis,  to 
instability,  to  a  reaction  of  bemused  enlightenment.  Some  college  students 
clearly  tried  the  drug  as  a  part  of  clique  activity ;  thanks  in  part  to  sustained 
advertising,  drugs  and  drug  talk  are  a  part  of  a  student's  vocabulary. 
Taking  the  drug  puts  the  student  one-up — he  has  "been  there".  This  is  a 
challenge  evoking  interest  among  friends  and  can  provide  the  basis  for  a 
loose  group  cohesion.  Others  sincerely  feel  they  should  confront  an  expe- 
rience advertised  to  be  so  important.  They  see  the  drug  as  an  emotional 
fitness  test,  somewhat  analogous  to  physical  fitness.  The  issue  for  many  is 
"control".  They  experiment  with  the  right  to  drink  and  test  their  ability 
to  stop.  At  this  age  they  are  doing  the  same,  often,  with  cigarette  smoking 
or  with  masturbation.  In  general  they  are  rehearsing  their  strength  and 
autonomy  at  a  time  when  their  lives  are  largely  unwritten.  Many  behaviors 
of  this  age  constitute  a  probing  for  consequences — an  attempt  to  come  to 
grips  with  life  and  to  seize  the  fruits  and  risks  promised  in  the  future,  the 
threshold  of  which  is  now  visible.  This  underlies  many  of  the  grimmer 
statistics  of  the  18-25  age  group,  including  accidents  and  suicide.  One  won- 
ders if  these  represent  the  inevitable  costs  of  learning  the  lesson  of  conse- 
quences, of  limits,  of  mortality. 


Summary  View  of  the  Value  of  Psychedelic  Drugs 

In  psychiatry  we  know  something  about  how  to  use  drugs  to  cope  with 
grossly  inadequate  functioning  and  to  ^compensate  for  deficit  states.  "With 
respect  to  the  LSD  experience,  we  know  that  many  serious  persons  have 
reported  some  transient  or  even  long-term  value  in  it.  They  say  their  aesthetic 
appreciation  is  enhanced,  and  McGlothlin  indeed  has  some  evidence  for  a 
slight  shift  of  this  sort  in  some  but  not  all  of  a  group  of  normal  subjects  {70) . 
If  though,  we  search  for  major  productions  of  art,  letters,  music  or  visionary 
insight,  few  clear  cut  monuments  to  the  drug  are  available.  Related  to  cre- 
ativity, the  effects  of  the  drug  do  not  seem  to  have  compelled  it.  Huxley's 
greatest  output  preceded  his  mescaline  states ;  he  thereafter,  as  I  read  him, 
tended  to  write  about  drugs,  not  to  create  with  them.  If  we  ask  whether  there 
have  been  cultures  which  have  eradicated  mental  disorders  and  disease  with 
these  drugs,  or  groups  which  have  seen  the  dissolution  of  deviant  behavior  or 
even  deviant  drug-linked  behaviors  (for  example,  alcoholism),  we  find  some 
slight  association  but  no  clear  cut  overall  differences  that  I  know  of  in  the 
general  titre  of  human  misery.  In  fact  the  use  of  these  drugs  is  often  associ- 
ated with  some  form  of  psychosocial  deprivation — or  (equally)  with  marked 
privilege  (as  in  Brahmins  and  college  students).  That  private  satisfactions 
might  have  been  achieved,  that  groups  with  the  presence  of  these  plants  could 
have  attained  some  spiritual  equilibrium  seems  apparent,  but  whether  the 
plants  and  their  effects  are  both  necessary  and  sufficient  to  get  such  results — 
whether  no  alternative  means  exist  within  a  culture — is  another  question. 

We  should  not  forget  to  assess  the  cost  of  sustained  euphoria  or  pleasure 
states ;  we  have  to  wonder  whether  the  mind  of  man  is  built  to  accommodate 
an  excess  either  of  pleasure  or  of  over- rationality.  We  do  not  know  whether  or 
not  there  are  individuals  with  sufficient  strength  to  take  these  drugs  for 
growth  or  pleasure  within  the  social  order  without  enhanced  and  credulous 
alienation  from  it.  Is  a  stable  person  really  under  sufficient  control  of  his  mo- 
tives and  shifting  circumstance,  let  alone  the  dosage,  to  take  these  drugs  as  a 
civil  right  for  whatever  personal  reasons  he  wishes  ?  If  so,  who  has  to  care  for 
the  consequences  of  his  misjudgments?  Some  side  effects  cannot  be  avoided 
if  we  are  correct  about  the  way  the  mind  is  built,  and  if  we  learn  from  the 
effects  of  drugs  on  much  simpler  biological  systems.  How  can  the  stability  of 
religious  custom  protect  drug  takers  who  have  little  authentic  orientation  to 
religion  and  unstable  groups  and  barely  reliable  leaders  upon  whom  to  lean  ? 

Thus  etched  upon  the  variabilities  of  culture  and  personality  are  drugs 
with  a  certain  skew  toward  that  mystical  realm  of  the  mind  which  knows  both 
psychosis  and  religion,  both  heightened  and  useful  self  insight,  and  impaired 
and  distorted  judgment  about  the  everyday  world.  Perhaps  similarities  and 
differences  of  these  various  plants  and  their  effects  could — if  analyzed — reveal 
means  for  finer  control  of  these  experiences — at  least  in  terms  of  their  inten- 
sities. Some  research  should  point  towards  elucidation  of  critical  neurochem- 
ical mechanisms. 

In  general,  it  seems  to  me  that  we  have  been  more  awed  than  aided  by  our 
experience  with  these  drugs.  They  still  remain  agents  which  reveal  but  do  not 


chart  the  mental  regions;  to  do  that  we  must  employ  our  mental  faculties 
available  in  the  undrugged  state.  Accordingly  we  should  do  better  than  repeat 
the  ontogeny  of  past  encounters  with  mind  revealing  drugs.  We  should  strive 
to  make  distinctions  so  that — at  some  future  date — if  we  knew  how  the  ele- 
ments of  mind  really  were  related,  we  could  specify  for  the  chemist  the 
designs  he  should  seek  in  nature.  But  to  begin  with  we  have  to  learn  to  analyze 
how  behavior  is  organized,  and  to  see  what  nature  can  teach  us  about  the  ways 
in  which  the  chemical  organization  of  the  brain  is  related  to  the  dimensions  of 


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Georg  E.  Cronheim,  Chairman 

Chairman's  Introduction 

Georg  E.  Cronheim 

Riker  Laboratories,  Northbridge,  California 

The  first  session  of  this  conference  dealing  with  a  particular  plant,  is 
devoted  to  Kawa  or  Kava-Kava  or  Piper  methysticum,  which  is  indigenous 
to  many  islands  of  the  South  Pacific. 

The  use  of  Kawa  in  certain  parts  of  Oceania  is  apparently  very  old.  It 
has  been  described  already  by  early  travelers,  for  instance  by  James  Cook 
in  1768.  It  is  important  to  remember  that  the  Kawa  drink  is  mentioned  not 
only  quite  early,  but  also  repeatedly  by  a  number  of  observers.  The  descrip- 
tions uniformly  indicated  that  the  Kawa  experience  is  apparently  pleasant, 
and  free  from  hangover  or  other  side-  or  aftei'-effects.  Many  travelers,  and 
also  such  scientific  investigators  as  L.  Lewin,  have  reported  that  Kawa  can 
induce  a  form  of  euphoria,  described  as  a  happy  state  of  complete  comfort 
and  peace,  with  ease  of  conversation  and  increased  perceptivity,  followed 
by  restful  sleep. 

In  many  areas,  the  use  of  Kawa  was  connected  with  religious  cults  and 
ceremonies.  Thus,  it  is  not  surprising  that  missionaries  tried  to  suppress  the 
drinking  of  Kawa.  In  some  islands,  this  campaign  was  very  successful, 
especially  when  it  coincided  with  the  introduction  of  alcoholic  beverages. 
This  replacement  of  Kawa  by  alcohol  may  have  some  significance,  which  I 
hope  will  be  discussed  by  some  of  the  speakers.  Could  it  be  that  enough 
people  preferred  the  effects  induced  by  alcohol  over  those  of  Kawa  ?  Other- 
wise the  change-over  would  not  have  taken  place  as  rapidly  or  as  completely 
as  was  apparently  the  case  in  many  islands.  Also,  the  preference  for  alcoholic 
beverages  is — if  not  an  absolute  proof — at  least  a  good  indication  that  the 
Kawa  drink  did  not  contain  or  simulate  alcohol. 

The  first  major  scientific  examination  of  Kawa  was  published  by  L.  Lewin 
in  1886.  Subsequently,  other  investigators  in  Europe  and  in  this  country 
studied  the  chemical  constituents  and  the  pharmacological  properties  of 
Kawa  and  of  its  components.  However,  the  number  of  people  interested  in 
this  plant  was  always  relatively  small.  Kawa  did  not  become  the  subject  of 
more  wide-spread  use  (or  mis-use),  or  of  numerous  scientific  investigations. 
Perhaps  our  colleagues  in  anthropology  and  sociology  can  tell  us  whether 
this  is  purely  coincidental  or  whether  there  is  some  specific  reason  that  in 
spite  of  the  sudden  interest  and  cult-like  fadism  related  to  substances  with 
hallucinogenic  or  euphoria-producing  properties,  Kawa  remained,  outside 
of  the  South  Pacific  Islands,  a  relatively  little  known  drug.  Moreover,  the 
fact  that  Kawa  did  not  gain  any  popularity  may  have  another  explanation. 
In  more  recent  references  to  the  Kawa  Ceremony  and  present-day  Kawa 
use,  none  of  the  previously  described  effects  on  the  central  nervous  system 
were  mentioned.  This  represented  always  a  great  puzzle.  How  could  one 
explain  numerous  detailed  eye-witness  accounts  of  unmistakable  central 

262-016  0-67— 9 


effects  of  Kawa  when  taken  by  natives  or  by  white  people,  travelers  or 
settlers?  Even  addiction  has  been  described  for  these  groups.  Also,  Kawa 
was  an  article  of  commerce.  Still  more  important,  it  was  not  just  collected 
as  a  wild  plant,  but  was  regularly  cultivated.  In  other  words,  Kawa  repre- 
sented something  which  native  people  in  the  South  Pacific  Islands  wanted 
and  for  which  they  were  willing  to  pay  in  the  form  of  money  or  physical 
labor.  Doesn't  it  seem  reasonable  to  assume  that  they  derived  some  pleasure 
from  Kawa?  And  wouldn't  tliis  explain  that  drinking  of  Kawa — both  for 
ceremonial  and  social  purposes — is  still  practiced? 

Pharmacological  studies  of  Kawa  and  certain  of  its  constituents  have 
shown  some  rather  remarkable  properties,  which  will  be  discussed  in  the 
course  of  this  program.  Studies  in  our  laboratories  were  in  fact  so  promising 
that  we  carried  out  the  necessary  chronic  toxicity  studies  in  animals,  in 
order  to  permit  an  evaluation  in  human  volunteers  and  in  patients.  Unfor- 
tunately, the  results  were  not  very  striking.  Some  anti-epileptic  activity  was 
seen  in  patients,  but  none  of  the  "tranquilizing"  effects  that  had  been 
described.  At  the  same  time,  signs  of  skin  reactions  became  apparent,  which 
precluded  further  chronic  administration. 

So  here  we  have  some  obvious  discrepancies,  for  which  I  am  sure  there 
must  be  some  explanation.  It  is  the  purpose  of  the  present  conference  to 
present  such  discrepancies  and  questions  to  groups  composed  of  anthro- 
pologists, botanists,  chemists,  clinicians  and  pharmacologists,  because  the 
complementary  approach  evolving  from  an  interdisciplinary  discussion  has 
the  best  chance  of  solving  some  of  the  existing  problems. 

We  are  fortunate  that  the  group  of  speakers  in  this  Kawa  symposium 
includes  three  investigators  who  have  had  extensive  first-hand  knowledge 
of  the  use  of  Kawa  in  various  island  groups  of  the  South  Pacific.  This  infor- 
mation will  be  supplemented  by  some  clinical  observations  in  patients,  as 
well  as  special  investigations  of  central  nervous  system  effects  of  Kawa  and 
some  of  its  constituents  in  human  volunteers.  The  pharmacological  proper- 
ties of  these  substances  and  the  chemistry  of  Kawa  will  also  be  presented 
in  adequate  detail.  All  in  all,  a  fairly  comprehensive  picture  of  Kawa  should 
emerge.  It  is  my  hope  that  the  combined  knowledge  of  the  seven  speakers, 
each  a  specialist  in  his  field,  may  provide  some  of  the  missing  answers  to 
the  Kawa  problem. 


The  Function  of  Kava  in 
Modern  Samoan  Culture 

Lowell  D.  Holmes 

Department  of  Anthropology,  Wichita  State  University,  Wichita,  Kansas 

In  the  Manu'a  island  group  of  American  Samoa  no  formal  or  informal 
meeting  of  chiefs  would  be  complete  without  the  distribution  of  the  tradi- 
tional Polynesian  beverage  kava.  This  drink  known  locally  as  ''ava,  is  pre- 
pared by  steeping  the  pulverized  roots  of  the  Piper  methysticum  plant  in  a 
prescribed  amount  of  water  until  a  cloudy,  khaki-colored  liquid  is  produced. 

Kava  is  in  no  way  alcoholic,  but  much  has  been  made  of  its  narcotic  prop- 
erties. Early  missionaries  maintained  that  the  concoction  partially  paralyzed 
the  lower  extremities,  making  it  difficult  to  walk.  More  recent  partakers  of 
kava,  including  the  author,  have  experienced  no  debilitating  effect  which 
could  be  attributed  to  consumption  of  the  drink.  Instead  they  have  found  it 
a  refreshing,  astringent  drink  which  produces  nothing  more  than  a  tingling 
sensation  in  the  mucous  membrane  of  the  mouth  and  a  short-lived  numbness 
of  the  tongue.  The  partial  paralysis  of  the  lower  limbs  is  not  caused  by  the 
kava  but  by  sitting  cross-legged  for  hours  while  the  kava  ceremony  is  in 
process.  Samoans  who  find  the  sitting  posture  a  more  natural  one  do  not  com- 
plain of  any  impairment  to  walking.  Missionary  V.  A.  Barradale,  writing  in 
1907  stated,  "I  have  heard  it  said  that  if  people  drink  too  much  [kava],  it 
makes  them  drunk  in  their  legs;  it  paralyzes  their  lower  limbs,  and  they 
have  to  sit  where  they  are  till  the  effect  wears  off.  But  it  would  certainly  need 
a  very  large  quantity  to  affect  a  man  in  that  way,  and  I  never  saw  or  heard  of 
any  one  in  that  condition"  (^). 

Although  Beaglehole  {3)  reports  rare  cases  of  kava  addiction  in  Pangai, 
Tonga,  such  a  phenomenon  was  not  personally  observed  in  Samoa.  The 
author's  informants  did  on  one  occasion  refer  to  one  recently  deceased  chief 
whom  they  believed  drank  kava  in  excess  because  he  had  it  prepared  every 
morning  so  that  he  could  partake  throughout  the  day.  They  also  felt  this 
excessive  use  of  kava  was  the  cause  of  his  death.  Actually  he  had  died  at  the 
age  of  seventy-five  from  cancer  of  the  stomach.  Another  claim  made  by  native 
informants  is  that  over-indulgence  of  the  drink  can  result  in  skin  diseases 
and  eye  ailments.  The  literature  produced  by  early  missionaries  contains 
numerous  references  to  a  scaly  skin  condition  being  attributable  to  kava 
drinking.  These  claims  were  not  corroborated  by  the  author.  One  European 
observer  believed  that  the  consumption  of  kava  had  the  effect  of  preventing 
the  Samoans  from  developing  a  taste  for  alcoholic  liquors.  The  author  has 
not  observed  this  phenomenon  either. 

Kramer  reports  that  he  observed  the  addition  of  Capsicum  pepper  pods  to 
the  kava  concoction  and  believes  this  strengthened  its  stimulating  effect 
thereby  rendering  kava  the  equivalent  in  its  use  to  Piper  hetle  in  Indonesia. 


He  tells  of  having  broken  open  a  Gapsicwn  pod  and  accidentally  having 
touched  his  face  with  his  soiled  hands.  He  complains  of  having  "endured 
severe  pain  for  a  long  time;  thus  the  pepper  affects  even  the  epidermis."  {6). 

The  addition  of  this  pepper  to  the  kava  mixture  was  not  observed  in  con- 
temporary Samoa,  and  the  extent  of  its  use  in  earlier  days  is  not  known. 
Kramer  is  the  only  19th  century  observed  to  record  its  use. 

Kava  is  often  drunk  by  Europeans,  who  upon  acquiring  the  taste,  find  it 
very  refreshing.  Many  urban  centers  in  the  South  Seas  boast  kava  saloons 
where  local  businessmen— native  and  European — take  a  kava  break  during 
the  mid-morning  hours.  Some  government  offices  have  kava  prepared  in  the 
morning  for  the  comfort  and  enjoyment  of  their  employees. 

The  relative  importance  of  kava  varies  from  island  group  to  island  group. 
Kava  drinking  in  Polynesia  is  primarily  a  phenomenon  of  the  cultures  in  the 
west,  such  as  Tonga,  Fiji  and  Samoa.  The  plant  does  not  grow  on  the  atolls  of 
the  Tokelaus.  Beaglehole  {3)  reports  universal  use  of  the  beverage  in  Tonga, 
but  maintains  that  accompanying  ritual  is  almost  totally  absent  in  villages 
inhabited  by  commoners.  Hawaii  and  Tahiti  had  the  drink  at  one  time  but  it 
has  practically  disappeared  in  recent  years.  The  Cook  Island  cultures  for- 
merly used  the  plant  for  drinking  purposes  also,  but  many  of  the  Bernice  P. 
Bishop  Museum  monographs  on  the  cultures  of  this  region  do  not  even  men- 
tion kava.  The  Maori  did  not  drink  kava  although  a  variety  of  the  plant  which 
could  have  been  used  for  such  purposes  was  indigenous  to  New  Zealand. 
Aitken  {1)  reports  that  in  the  Australs  the  occasional  and  somewhat  unim- 
portant practice  of  kava  drinking  was  abolished  by  missionaries  in  1822.  New 
Caledonian  Polynesian  populations  are  described  by  Leenhardt  (7)  as  ignor- 
ing the  plant  altogether. 

Other  centers  of  kava  drinking  in  Oceania  are  Ponape  in  the  Carolines, 
the  Marind  District  of  West  New  Gruinea,  the  New  Hebrides  and  the  Wallis 
and  Futuna  islands.  In  Melanesia  the  drink  is  described  as  being  made  from 
fresh  roots,  and  the  concoction  is  said  to  have  the  effect  of  rapidly  inducing 
deep  sleep.  Chronic  drinkers  in  this  area  are  said  to  suffer  from  a  state  of 
depression  accompanied  by  a  permanent  decrease  in  appetite.  Malnutrition 
is  also  said  to  be  observed  among  some  addicts.  The  difference  in  effect  be- 
tween this  area  and  western  Polynesia  is  possibly  attributable  to  the  state  of 
the  kava  root  at  the  time  of  production  of  the  beverage.  The  dried  roots  used 
in  Polynesia  apparently  do  not  produce  as  strong  a  drink  as  that  concocted 
from  fresh  ones. 

In  Samoa  it  appears  that  kava  drinking  and  its  attendant  ceremonies  has 
a  long  history,  the  practice  being  intimately  related  to  indigenous  religious 
practices  and  village  social  and  political  organization.  Mythology  relates  how 
kava  drinking  was  given  to  mortals  by  the  first  high  chief,  Tagaloa  Ui,  and 
prescribes  the  form  for  modern  kava  ceremonies.  The  myth  which  provides 
these  sanctions  was  recorded  in  Manu'a  as  follows : 

Not  far  from  the  village  of  Fitiuta  there  is  a  place  where  the  rising  sun  is  first  seen 
in  Samoa.  Tliis  place  is  called  Sana.  Long  ago  there  was  a  custom  that  one  day  a  year 
one  of  the  families  of  Fitiuta  must  sacrifice  the  daughter  to  the  sun.  On  the  day  of  the 
"celebration  of  the  sun"  a  daughter  from  the  family  of  Matainaumati  went  to  Samoa 


to  be  sacrificed.  The  girl's  name  was  Ui.  When  the  sun  came  for  the  girl  he  saw  that  she 
was  very  beautiful  and  instead  of  eating  her  he  decided  to  take  her  as  his  wife.  He 
took  the  girl  to  live  with  him  in  the  sky.  After  a  time  she  became  pregnant  and  wanted 
to  go  home  so  that  her  first  child  could  be  born  in  her  family's  village,  and  she  wanted 
to  show  her  parents  that  she  had  not  been  killed. 

While  journeying  home,  Ui  had  a  miscarriage,  and  the  fetus  floated  away  upon  the 
waters  where  it  was  found  by  the  hermit  crab,  (he  plover  and  the  shrike.  By  manipulating 
the  fetus  and  breathing  life  into  it  the  animals  created  the  first  Samoan  chief,  Tagaloa  Ui. 

After  his  creation  Tagaloa  Ui  made  a  kilt  for  himself  out  of  ti  leaves  and  started  to 
walk  toward  the  village  of  Fitiuta.  On  his  way  he  walked  through  a  grove  of  kava 
plants  and  discovered  the  house  of  the  mortal,  Pava.  Pava  invited  the  chief  to  enter  his 
house  and  there  the  first  kava  ceremony  involving  mortal  men  was  held. 

When  Tagaloa  Ui  entered  the  house  he  took  a  place  at  the  end  of  the  house  (today  the 
seat  of  honor),  and  Pava  sat  in  the  front  of  the  house  (the  traditional  place  for  talking 
chiefs)  and  began  to  prepare  the  kava.  Pava  chewed  and  spit  the  kava  into  a  taro  leaf 
(laupula'a)  which  served  as  the  kava  bowl.  Cups  consisted  of  tautava  leaves,  and  Pava 
used  his  fingers  to  wring  the  kava  as  no  strainer  was  then  known. 

While  Pava'was  wringing  the  kava,  his  son,  Fa'alafi,  laughed  and  played  near  the 
bowl.  Tagaloa  Ui  instructed  Pava  to  make  the  boy  sit  down  and  be  quiet,  but  nothing 
was  done  about  the  irreverent  boy.  After  several  unheeded  warnings,  Tagaloa  Ui  picked 
up  a  coconut  frond,  formed  it  into  a  knife,  and  cut  Pava's  son  into  two  pieces.  Then 
Tagaloa  Ui  said  to  Pava,  "This  is  the  food  for  the  kava.  This  is  your  part  and  this  is 
mine."  Pava  mourned  and  could  not  drink  the  kava. 

Then  Tagaloa  Ui  said,  "Let  us  have  a  new  kava  ceremony."  The  kava  and  the  leaf 
bowl  and  cups  were  thrown  away  and  Tagaloa  Ui  told  two  of  Pava's  sons  to  go  to  the 
highest  mountain,  the  house  of  Tagaloa  Lagi,  and  bring  down  a  wooden  kava  bowl,  coco- 
nut cups,  a  hibiscus  strainer  and  a  new  kind  of  kava,  latasi,  a  single  branch  kava  tree. 
These  things  were  brought,  and  a  second  kava  ceremony  was  started.  Again  Pava  served 
as  the  kava  wringer,  and  when  the  kava  was  ready,  Tagaloa  Ui  said,  "Bring  me  my  cup 
first."  Tagaloa  Ui  did  not  drink  the  kava  but  poured  it  onto  his  piece  of  the  dead  son 
of  Pava  and  then  onto  Pava's  piece.  Then  he  said,  "Soifua"  (life).  The  two  parts  came 
together  and  the  boy  lived.  Pava  was  so  happy  he  clapped  his  hands.  Pava  drank  his 
cup  of  kava  and  Tagaloa  Ui  gave  the  following  orders :  "Pava,  do  not  let  children  stand 
and  talk  while  kava  is  being  prepared  for  high  chiefs,  for  the  things  belonging  to  the 
high  chiefs  are  sacred." 

A  number  of  ritual  details  of  the  modem  Samoan  kava  ceremony  seem  to 
relate  directly  to  this  myth.  They  are: 

1.  The  seating  arrangement  of  the  chiefs  and  the  talking  chiefs. 

2.  Prohibitions  against  children,  or  indeed  any  unauthorized  untitled 
persons,  attending  the  ceremony. 

3.  The  solemn  atmosphere  which  must  prevail. 

4.  The  proper  equipment  for  the  production  and  distribution  of  kava — 
a  carved  wooden  kava  bowl,  a  hibiscus  strainer,  a  coconut  cup,  and 
a  certain  type  of  kava. 

5.  The  order  of  drinking — high  chiefs  first,  talking  chiefs  second. 

6.  The  pouring  of  a  bit  of  kava  from  the  cup  onto  the  mat. 

7.  The  concept  of  food  for  the  kava. 

8.  The  use  of  the  term  '■^Soifica." 

9.  The  clapping  of  hands  when  the  kava  is  ready. 

10.  The  duty  of  talking  chiefs  to  direct  the  kava  ceremony. 
The  importance  of  the  above  is  indicated  by  the  fact  that  although  short- 
cuts  are  often  taken  in  the  modem  kava  ceremony  the  features  listed  are 
seldom  if  ever  altered. 


Kava  in  contemporary  Samoan  society  has  been  likened  by  Keesing  (5)  to 
the  European  cocktail  or  highball,  in  that  it  produces  a  relaxed  and  friendly 
atmosphere  conducive  to  social  cooperation. 

Every  chief  is  expected  to  keep  a  stock  of  dried  kava  on  hand  for  his  own 
use  and  for  the  many  demands  made  upon  him  by  the  protocol  of  hospitality. 
Whenever  any  elite  visitor  enters  the  village,  the  welcoming  ceremony  re- 
quires that  each  of  the  host  chiefs  present  him  with  a  dried  kava  root. 

The  kava  ceremony  is  invariably  the  initial  act  of  any  meeting  of  the  vil- 
lage council  (/(mo) ,  and  is  therefore  a  definite  part  of  formal  discussion  and 
decision  making.  It  is  also  an  essential  part  of  all  ceremonies  associated  with 
births,  marriages,  deaths  and  title  installations.  No  bonito  canoe  or  house  is 
ever  constructed  without  the  labor  being  prefaced  by  the  kava  ceremony 
wherein  the  carpenter  is  served  first  kava  in  the  name  of  Sao  (a  name  which 
people  claim  was  given  to  the  first  carpenter  by  the  god  Tagaloa) .  The  cere- 
mony is  said  to  insure  successful  work. 

Kava  drinking  is  without  doubt  the  most  important  element  of  the  aiavd, 
the  ceremony  of  greeting  for  visiting  parties  (m-alaga),  and  therefore  carries 
much  of  the  biirden  of  Samoan  hospitality. 

In  earlier,  less  peaceful  days  kava  was  consumed  by  warriors  prior  to  battle. 
On  such  occasions,  the  ceremony  was  referred  to  as  ^ava  mua  au.  Fe'epulea'i 
Eipley  (7)  reported  observing  such  a  ceremony  wherein  the  chiefs  lined  up 
along  each  side  of  the  road  and  set  up  the  kava  bowl  in  the  middle  of  it. 

Aside  from  its  ceremonial  use,  kava  is  reported  to  have  certain  medicinal 
uses.  It  is  often  consumed  in  an  attempt  to  counteract  the  chills  which  ac- 
ompany  filariasis.  Some  Samoans  believe  that  kava  chewed  in  large  quantities 
will  cause  abortion.  It  is  also  claimed  to  be  a  cure  for  gonorrhea,  and  it  is  a 
matter  of  record  that  German  drug  houses  at  one  time  imported  small  quan- 
tities of  the  plant  for  this  purpose. 

Although  the  kava  ceremony  is  considered  the  exclusive  property  of  titled 
men  there  are  certain  ceremonial  occasions,  such  as  the  entertainment  of  a 
visiting  party,  when  the  society  of  imtitled  men  (atomagra)  or  the  wives  of  the 
village  chiefs  (Woman's  Committee)  conduct  their  own  social  kava  ritual. 
On  such  occasions  the  order  of  drinking  is  determined  by  one's  relationship 
to  the  title  holders  of  the  village.  Having  a  father  or  husband  who  is  the  vil- 
lage paramount  chief  entitles  one  to  be  honored  with  first  kava. 

Some  regional  variations  in  kava  rituai  may  be  observed  from  village  to 
village,  and  even  in  a  given  village  the  ceremony  is  not  always  performed  in 
the  same  way.  Certain  parts  may  be  abbreviated  or  eliminated  altogether,  and 
perhaps  the  ceremony  to  be  described  in  this  paper  is  closer  to  the  ideal  than 
to  the  real.  However,  all  the  steps  described  herein  have  been  observed  fre- 
quently on  occasions  of  high  ceremony.  Regional  variations  include  differ- 
ences in  who  may  wring  kava,  the  number  of  attendants  involved  in  serving 
the  kava,  and  in  some  cases,  the  status  and  sex  of  those  served.  In  some  villages 
only  men  are  permitted  to  wring  kava,  but  in  others  the  ceremonial  village 
maiden  (faupou)  may  do  the  honors.  On  the  island  of  Tutuila  it  is  not  un- 
common for  women  to  hold  matai  titles  and  serve  on  the  village  council.  They 
are,  therefore,  as  titled  individuals,  qualified  to  participate  in  the  kava  cere- 


mony.  In  Manu'a  women  neither  hold  matai  titles  nor  partake  in  the  drinking 
of  kava  at  formal  ceremonies  where  chiefs  are  present.  The  one  exception  to 
this  was  the  female  sovereign  Tuimanu'a  Makelita. 

The  Modern  Kava  Ceremony 

In  preparing  for  the  modern  Manu'an  kava  ceremony  the  talking  chief  who 
will  later  direct  the  kava  distribution  selects  a  piece  of  kava  root.  This  part 
of  the  kava  plant  is  called  the  Brother  Roots  {''ava  uso).  The  name  drives 
from  a  rajth.  which  recounts  how  two  brothers,  the  sons  of  Tagaloa,  found  a 
piece  of  floating  wood  while  swimming  west  from  the  Manu'a  Group.  They 
divided  the  wood  and  used  the  two  pieces  as  floats.  One  of  the  brothers  re- 
turned to  Fitiuta  where  many  similar  plants  were  observed  to  be  growing 
already,  while  the  other  brother  swam  on  to  Western  Samoa  where  kava  was 
unknown.  Here  he  planted  his  piece  of  wood  and  thereby  introduced  kava 
drinking  in  this  area. 

After  the  initial  selection  of  a  piece  of  kava  root,  the  society  of  untitled  men 
{amnaga)  takes  over  and  the  root  is  cut  into  still  smaller  pieces  by  one  of 
their  members.  In  this  form  kava  is  known  as  una  o  le  V  a  sd,  scales  of  the 
sacred  or  forbidden  fish.  This  term  alludes  the  fact  that  like  many  other  sacred 
or  taboo  foods  kava  is  reserved  for  the  exclusive  use  of  the  chiefs. 

Wliile  the  pieces  of  kava  were  formerly  chewed,  final  processing  today 
involves  pulverizing  in  a  crude  stone  mortar  (■tna'a  tu''i''ava) .  Other  prepara- 
tions for  the  ceremony  include  washing  the  kava  bowl  and  bringing  water  in 
coconut  shell  containers  (sometimes  a  galvanized  bucket  is  substituted  today) . 

A  full  inventory  of  the  ceremonial  paraphernalia  includes  a  carved  bowl, 
eighteen  inches  in  diameter,  which  traditionally  had  four  legs  but  now  may 
have  as  many  as  twenty-four,  a  strainer  made  of  shredded  hibiscus  bast,  and 
a  polished  coconut  cup. 

Village  kava  ceremonies  are  usually  held  in  the  house  which  serves  as  the 
meeting  place  of  the  village  council.  As  the  chiefs  enter  the  council  house  an 
attitude  of  reverence  prevails.  Nothing  may  be  worn  above  the  waist,  and  body 
ornaments  of  all  types  must  be  laid  aside.  The  men  speak  in  whispers  and 
refrain  from  smoking  as  the  kava  ceremony  begins. 

At  a  place  near  the  back  of  the  house  three  untitled  men,  members  of  the 
village  avmaga,  station  themselves  at  the  kava  bowl  while  a  fourth  remains 
outside  to  clean  the  hibiscus  strainer  of  kava  fibers  when  it  is  periodically 
thrown  to  him  by  the  wringer.  The  man  who  is  to  wring  the  kava  sits  im- 
mediately behind  the  bowl  with  a  water  pourer  to  his  right,  and  to  his  left, 
the  man  who  will  carry  the  cups  of  liquid  to  the  assembled  chiefs.  Several 
taboos  must  be  observed  by  the  wringer.  These  include  never  wearing  a 
flower  necklace,  a  ring,  a  shirt  or  any  other  clothing  except  a  wrap-aroimd 
{lavalava) .  Lavalavas  of  all  untitled  men  involved  in  the  ceremony  must  be 
worn  so  they  do  not  extend  below  the  knees.  The  wringing  of  the  kava  must 
be  done  correctly  and  with  precision.  Untitled  men  take  pride  in  their  ability 


in  tHs  art.  There  are  a  nxunber  of  specific  steps  in  the  preparation  of  the 
liquid,  and  each  has  a  traditional  name.  They  are : 

1.  Fa'apidcfu — Covering  the  kava  in  the  bottom  of  the  bowl  with  the 

2.  Vau — Pressing  down  on  the  strainer  with  the  heels  of  the  hands  and 
with  the  fingers. 

3.  Aoga — (Collecting  pieces  of  kava  fiber  in  the  strainer  by  drawing 
it  toward  the  back  of  the  bowl. 

4.  Tatau — ^Wringing  the  kava.  The  strainer  is  lifted  from  the  bowl  and 
wrung  three  times  only.  It  is  grasped  in  both  hands  like  one  would 
grip  a  baseball  bat.  At  the  end  of  each  wringing  stroke  the  clenched 
hands  are  bent  forward  so  the  liquid  will  not  run  down  the  arms. 

5.  Mapd — Cleaning  the  strainer.  After  the  above  steps  have  been  car- 
ried out  three  times  the  strainer  is  passed  under  the  right  knee  of  the 
wringer  and  thrown  back,  with  a  side  arm  motion,  to  the  untitled 
person  outside  the  house  who  catches  it  in  his  right  hand  and  removes 
the  kava  particles  in  it  by  snapping  it  three  or  four  times.  The 
hibiscus  strainer  is  then  thrown  back  underhand  and  caught  by  the 
wringer  in  his  right  hand. 

The  above  process  is  continued  until  the  bowl  is  free  of  pieces  of  kava  root. 
When  this  has  been  accomplished  and  the  kava  is  ready  for  drinking,  the 
wringer  wipes  the  rim  of  the  bowl,  cleans  the  strainer  himself  by  snapping, 
forms  it  into  a  ball,  and  plunges  it  into  the  kava,  and  lifts  it  above  the 
bowl  with  both  hands,  allowing  the  stream  of  liquid  to  fall  into  the  bowl. 
This  final  gesture,  known  as  sila  alofi,  permits  the  chiefs  to  see  whether  the 
kava  requires  more  water.  It  is  said  that  the  correct  mixture  is  judged  by 
the  sound  of  the  kava  splashing  into  the  bowl  as  well  as  by  its  color. 

If  the  talking  chief  serving  as  kava  announcer  does  not  call  for  more 
water  the  liibiscus  strainer  is  wrung  out  and  placed  on  the  rim  of  the  bowl. 
The  kava  wringer  then  places  his  hands  on  the  sides  of  the  bowl,  liis  right 
covering  the  strainer.  He  remains  in  that  position  until  the  kava  has  been 

It  is  the  responsibility  of  the  talking  chief  directing  the  ceremony  to 
watch  the  progress  of  the  wringing  from  his  position  behind  and  to  the  right 
of  the  bowl.  Wlien  the  kava  is  nearly  clear  of  fiber  particles,  he  must  com- 
mence the  verbal  part  of  the  ceremony  with  a  poetic  recitation  (solo) 
which  recounts  the  mythical  origin  of  the  kava  or  particular  kava  cere- 
monies of  importance  held  by  the  ancient  Samoan  gods.  A  typical  solo  is  as 
follows : 

Si'i  le  f  aiva  e  to'alua 

Papa  ma  Lotulotua 

Aumai  se  i'a  setasi 

Le  Manini  mai  le  Sami 

Telemu  ma  Telea'i 

O  mai  lua  te  tauf  etuli  ile  lagi 

Fati  mai  se  la  tasi 

Se  la  o  le  la  'avao  tu  felata'  i 


Gaugau  ma  sasa 
Gaugau  ma  f  alava 

Two  people  went  fishing 

Papa  and  Lotulotua  (members  of  the  Tagaloa  family) 
They  brought  one  fish 
The  Manini,  from  the  sea. 

Telemu  and  Telea'i  (two  brothers  of  the  Tagaloa  family) 
Were  sent  to  run  to  the  heaven 
To  bring  a  branch  of  kava 
They  broke  and  hit  the  kava 
They  broke  and  hit  the  fierce  kava 

Many  solos  are  traditional,  but  clever  talking  chiefs  may  and  do  compose 
their  own.  It  will  be  noted  that  the  example  given  above  is  composed  of 
rhyming  couplets.  There  is,  however,  little  concern  for  rhythm.  The  solo  is 
timed  to  be  finished  the  moment  the  kava  is  completely  clear  of  fibers, 
whereupon  the  kava  announcer  states,  "Z7a  usi  le  aloft''''  (The  kava  is  already 
cleaned).  The  color  and  consistency  of  the  mixture  is  then  analyzed  and  if 
pronounced  acceptable,  the  assembled  chiefs  respond  by  clapping  their  hands 
several  times.  Informants  state  that  this  act  of  clapping  corresponds  to  the 
clapping  of  Pava  when  his  sons  was  returned  to  life  through  the  action  of 
Tagaloa  Ui  at  the  first  kava  ceremony. 

The  distribution  of  kava  begins  by  calling  the  cup  title  of  the  high  chieJ 
who,  because  of  his  rank,  is  permitted  to  drink  first.  It  must  be  understood 
that  the  cup  title  is  not  the  family  title  of  the  chief.  For  example,  in  Si'uf aga 
village  High  Chief  Lefiti  (Lefiti  is  the  family  title)  has  the  cup  title 
Lupe  lele  talitali  lau  ipu  (The  pigeon  who  flies,  receive  your  cup).  Only 
high  chiefs  have  cup  titles.  Talking  chiefs  receive  their  cup  after  the  an- 
nouncement of  their  family  title  and  the  words  "Zaw  ^ava'^  (your  kava). 
Chiefs  of  secondary  rank  receive  the  cup  after  their  family  title  and  the 
yvord'^^ Taumafa'^  (drink)  is  pronounced. 

The  order  of  drinking  is  of  the  utmost  importance  as  it  signifies  the  rela- 
tive rank  of  the  drinker.  The  chief  of  highest  rank  in  the  village  receives 
first  kava;  the  highest  talking  chief,  second;  second  highest  chief,  third; 
second  highest  talking  chief,  fourth;  and  so  on  down  the  ranks  of  chiefs 
and  talking  chiefs.  In  some  villages  this  procedure  is  altered,  and  certain 
divisions  of  chiefs,  or  certain  sections  of  the  village,  drink  before  others. 
To  drink  last  kava  is  as  prestigef  ul  as  to  drink  first. 

Drinking  etiquette,  which  varies  according  to  rank,  is  as  follows:  When 
the  high  chief  receives  the  cup  he  does  so  with  both  hands.  Before  drinking 
he  pours  a  few  drops  onto  the  floor  mat  and  says,  "/a  fa'atasi  le  Atua  ma  i 
tatou  i  lenei  aso^''  (May  God  be  with  us  today)  or  '•'•la  taHtaH  le  Atua  i  lenei 
aso'''  (May  God  be  our  leader  for  today) .  Smith  {8)  records  a  typical  prayer 
as,  "Let  the  god  drink  kava  that  this  gathering  may  be  pleasant." 


Following  this  prayer  the  high  chief  raises  his  cup,  says  "Soifna'^  or 
'■^Manuia,^''  and  drinks  what  is  contained  in  the  cup.  If  the  high  chief  says 
'■^Soifua''^  the  other  chiefs  respond  with  ^^Manuia.^^  If  the  latter  word  is 
pronounced  by  the  drinker  the  chiefs  reply  with  '■'■Soifiiu.''''  Informants  point 
out  the  connection  between  this  aspect  of  the  modern  kava  ceremony  and 
the  action  of  Tagaloa  Ui  in  the  first  kava  ceremony.  The  pouring  of  kava 
onto  the  mat  represents  the  pouring  of  the  liquid  onto  the  two  parts  of  the 
dead  son  of  Pava,  and  the  word  "xS'o^/m,"  which  may  be  translated  "Life"  or 
"May  you  live,"  alludes  to  the  command  given  by  Tagaloa  Ui  when  he 
performed  the  miracle  of  returning  the  boy  to  life.  The  word  '"''Manuia^'' 
may  be  translated  "Blessings"  or  "May  the  gods  bless  you,"  and  perhaps 
relates  to  an  expression  of  gratitude  by  Pava.  It  is  also  contended  by  in- 
formants that  the  right  of  the  high  chief  to  drink  first  kava  and  to  sit  in 
the  end  of  the  house  is  sanctioned  by  the  Tagaloa  Ui  myth. 

The  drinking  etiquette  to  be  observed  by  a  high  talking  chief  varies  some  - 
what in  that  he  receives  the  kava  cup  with  two  hands  if  high  chiefs  are  oc- 
cupying both  ends  of  the  house,  but  if  only  one  high  chief  is  seated  to  the 
high  talking  chief's  right,  the  cup  must  be  received  with  the  left  hand  to 
avoid  showing  the  high  chief  the  back  of  the  hand.  Of  course  the  cup  will  be 
taken  with  the  right  hand  if  the  high  chief  is  seated  to  the  talking  chief's 
left.  A  high  talking  chief  usually  does  not  pour  any  kava  onto  the  floor 
mat  although  he  may  say  "Soifua"  or  "Manuia"  before  drinking. 

Chiefs  and  talking  chiefs  of  secondary  rank  do  not  pour  kava  onto  the 
mat,  nor  do  they  say  anything  before  drinking.  Furthermore,  they  are  not 
expected  to  respect  the  position  of  the  high  chief  by  receiving  the  cup  with 
any  particular  hand. 

Some  Samoans  do  not  care  for  kava  and  they  "drink"  symbolically  by 
merely  touching  the  bottom  of  the  cup  as  it  is  passed  to  them.  The  cup 
may  also  be  raised  in  a  form  of  salutation  and  then  returned  to  the  cup 
bearer,  with  the  kava  untouched.  On  rare  occasions  a  chief  may  take  the 
liquid  into  his  mouth,  swish  it  about  and  then  turn  and  spit  it  out  onto  the 
apron  of  the  house  outside.  All  these  actions  represent  acceptable  etiquette  for 
the  non-drinker. 

When  many  chiefs  are  assembled  there  is  often  not  enough  kava  to  serve 
everyone.  In  such  cases  it  is  important  for  the  kava  announcer  to  judge  when 
but  a  single  cup  of  kava  remains  and  then  to  announce  rapidly  the  names 
of  those  who  are  entitled  to  drink.  Following  the  recitation  of  this  list  of 
titles  the  announcer  calls  the  cup  title  of  the  high  chief  who  is  then  honored 
by  drinking  last  kava,  and  the  final  cup  is  served  to  him.  When  talking  chiefs 
of  secondary  rank  are  aware  that  there  is  not  sufficient  kava  to  go  around 
they  will  often  interrupt  the  announcer  and  call,  "I  will  drink  with  my  chief." 
When  this  occurs  the  lesser  talking  chief's  title  is  not  announced  but  the  cup 
is  taken  to  him  immediately  after  the  high  chief  of  his  family  has  been 

Partially  consumed  kava  must  be  cast  away  and  the  cup  returned  empty. 
It  may  be  handed  or  thrown  back  to  the  server.  If  the  cup  is  thrown  to  the 
server  it  is  done  to  test  his  alertness. 



1  =  Serving  route  to  paramount  high  chief  (PC);  2  =  Serving  route  to  high  chief  (HC) 
3  =  Serving  route  to  talking  chiefs  (TC);  4  =  Serving  route  to  lesser  chiefs  and  talking 
chiefs  (LC) ;  5= Serving  route  to  high  chief  who  will  receive  last  kava  (HC) ;  +  =  Point 
at  which  the  kava  server  stops  before  approaching  chiefs  of  high  rank. 

All  aumaga  members  who  expect  to  take  part  in  the  kava  ceremonies  must 
master  the  etiquette  of  serving  kava.  Each  rank  of  chief  or  talking  chief  must 
be  served  in  a  special  and  distinct  manner.  Respect  is  paid  to  the  half  of  the 
house  in  which  the  paramount  chief  is  seated,  and  the  kava  server  must 
walk  in  this  area  as  little  as  possible  in  making  his  rounds  to  the  drinkers. 

When  serving  a  high  chief  the  kava  distributor  dips  the  coconut  cup  into 
the  kava  and  carries  it  with  the  thumbs  and  index  fingers  at  the  level  of  his 
waist  to  the  center  of  the  house  where  he  stops,  raises  it  to  his  forehead  and 
walks  in  the  direction  of  the  high  chief.  About  four  feet  from  the  chief, 
the  server  lowers  his  right  hand  and  with  his  left,  places  the  cup  on  his 
upturned  right  palm.  The  left  hand  is  placed  behind  the  back,  and  the  cup 
is  handed  to  the  high  chief  chest  high.  The  young  man  then  walks  to  the 


center  of  the  house  where  he  stands  at  attention  until  the  chief  has  finished 

Lower  ranking  chiefs  are  served  kava  with  the  right  hand,  but  in  the 
case  of  these  lesser  personages  the  cup  is  held  by  the  edge  with  the  thumb  in- 
side, thus  showing  the  palm  of  the  hand  to  the  chiefs  as  it  is  presented  to 

In  serving  a  high  talking  chief,  the  cup  is  held  by  the  edge  with  the  thumb, 
index  and  middle  finger  of  the  right  hand.  As  it  is  carried  from  the  bowl 
it  is  held  just  above  the  left  shoulder.  When  in  front  of  the  high  talking 
chief,  the  kava  server  swings  the  cup  forward  and  down,  presenting  it  with 
the  back  of  his  hand  toward  the  talking  chief.  The  kava  cup  for  lower 
ranking  talking  chiefs  is  carried  in  the  right  hand,  waist  high,  but  is 
presented  with  the  left.  As  in  the  case  of  high  talking  chiefs,  the  cup  is 
held  by  the  edge  and  the  back  of  the  hand  is  shown  to  the  drinker. 

After  delivering  the  kava  the  server  returns  to  the  center  post  of  the 
house  and  stands  facing  front  while  the  kava  is  consumed.  In  rare  cases  he 
may  return  to  a  position  in  front  of  the  kava  bowl  and  face  the  front 
of  the  house. 

When  all  of  the  assembled  chiefs  and  talking  chiefs  have  drunk  or 
have  been  acknowledged  as  having  the  right  to  drink,  the  kava  announcer 
concludes  the  ceremony  with  "Z7a  moto  le  alofi'''  (The  kava  is  finished). 
'•'•Ale  le  fau  ma  le  ipu  e  tautau''^  (The  bowl  will  hang  with  the  fau  (strainer) 
and  the  cup).  Perhaps  a  more  traditional  closing  is  that  recorded  by 
Smith  (9)  as  "Ze  ^ava  ^au  motv}''  (The  kava  is  broken  off).  "Z7a  matefa  le 
fau^^  (The  strainer  is  poor).  "Z7a  pa'u  le  aloP''  (The  company  of  chiefs 
has  fallen  down). 

The  assembled  chiefs  respond  to  these  final  words  of  the  kava  announcer 
with  an  expression  of  thanks,  "maZo  fa^asoasoaP  At  the  conclusion  of 
the  kava  drinking  ceremony  there  is  always  the  fono  o  le  ''ava  (food  for 
the  kava  ceremony).  According  to  the  Tagaloa  Ui  myth  the  food  for  the 
first  ceremony  was  the  son  of  Pava  and  the  food  for  the  second  was  the 
sacred  fish  Manini  and  tcdofa'afana  (recooked  taro).  Today  the  Manini 
and  talofa'afana  remain  the  traditional  foods  for  the  kava  ceremony  but 
there  are  frequent  substitutions  of  rice,  tinned  beef,  or  other  prestige 

The  present  day  kava  ceremony  contains  a  number  of  elements  which 
can  be  traced  to  older  religious  concepts  of  Samoan  culture.  The  pour- 
ing of  a  bit  of  kava  onto  the  mat  not  only  relates  to  ancient  mythology, 
but  a  number  of  scholars  feel  that  it  is  a  ritual  reenactment  of  an  ancient 
religious  custom  of  pouring  an  evening  oflFering  to  family  or  village  gods. 
Steubel  records  in  Samoanische  texte  (1895)  that  the  typical  prayer 
accompanying  this  act  was  "O  the  kava  to  drink  of  thy  highness  Sepo.  Be 
lovingly  disposed.  Bless  this  village."  (Sepo  was  primarily  a  war  god,  but 
in  many  villages  served  as  a  household  god. ) 

Mead  {8)  suggested  that  the  casting  away  of  unconsumed  kava  may  be 
related  to  ancient  ceremonies  wherein  kava  was  entreated  to  depart  and 
take  all  misfortune  with  it.  On  the  other  hand  it  may  be  related  to  precau- 


tions  about  unconsumed  food  or  drink  which  might  be  used  for  purposes 
of  sorcery.  Certainly  the  sanctity  of  the  mixing  bowl  and  gear,  the  air  of 
solemnity  and  respect  which  accompany  the  entire  ceremony,  and  the  in- 
clusion of  poetic  recitations  which  always  allude  to  ancient  Samoan  gods, 
testify  to  the  religious  nature  of  the  ancient  ceremony. 

Although  the  kava  ceremony  contains  these  unmistakable  references 
to  pre-Christian  religion  there  seems  to  have  been  no  great  problem  in 
fitting  it  into  the  Christian  context.  Bits  of  Christian  prayer  frequently 
accompany  the  pouring  of  kava  onto  the  mat  prior  to  drinking,  and  it  is 
not  uncommon  to  see  local  pastors  included  in  the  kava  circle.  On  such 
occasions  the  village  pastor  {faife'au)  drinks  first  kava,  thus  being  ac- 
corded honors  even  greater  than  those  shown  to  the  village  paramount 
chief.  Since  village  pastors  do  not  hold  titles,  their  privileged  position  of 
drinking  indicates  their  exalted  status  within  the  social  structure  of  the 
village.  Samoan  medical  practitioners  and  village  school  teachers  are 
accorded  similar  honor  by  being  served  kava  second  only  to  the  highest 
village  chiefs. 

Neither  the  church  nor  the  American  government  has  attempted  to  do 
away  with  the  kava  ceremony,  and  it  is  not  unusual  to  see  chiefs  partake 
in  a  communion  service  in  church,  and  then  go  home  and  conduct  a  kava 
ceremony  while  waiting  for  the  midday  meal.  All  visiting  dignitaries  in 
American  Samoa,  including  President  Lyndon  B.  Johnson  in  1966,  are 
honored  with  a  kava  ceremony  by  the  paramount  chiefs  of  the  territory. 

It  has  been  said  that  while  other  Polynesian  people  worshipped  gods, 
Samoans  worshipped  their  village  and  social  organization.  The  kava  cere- 
mony would  seem  to  be  a  part  of  this  veneration.  The  detailed  etiquette 
of  serving,  the  prescribed  order  of  drinking,  the  use  of  special  honorific 
cup  names,  and  the  insistence  that  the  beverage  be  prepared  and  served 
only  by  specially  qualified  persons,  have  been  tremendously  important  in 
dramatizing  the  whole  system  of  Samoan  rank  and  prestige.  When  the 
kava  ceremony  is  completed  there  is  little  doubt  of  the  status  of  those 
present  and  of  the  rights  and  privileges  of  their  respective  offices.  Through 
continual  ceremonial  exercise,  social  relationships  are  reiterated  and 
Samoan  values  are  intensified.  The  result  of  this  seems  to  be  an  unusual 
stability  and  resistance  to  change  which  is  found  among  few  other  Poly- 
nesian peoples.  In  an  attempt  to  explain  this  remarkable  resistance  to 
change,  John  Copp  has  commented,  "Samoan  custom  now  serves  as  a 
'refuge'  from  the  conflict  of  choice  and  judgment  resulting  from  Western 
contacts."  {11).  Perhaps  it  has  been  the  stabilizing  influence  of  the  kava 
ceremony  and  other  rituals  that  has  allowed  the  Samoans  to  make  satis- 
factory adjustments  to  European  influences.  Traditional  aspects  of  Samoan 
culture  such  as  the  kava  ceremony  are,  in  a  manner  of  speaking,  bits  of 
solid  ground  on  which  to  anchor  in  a  changing  world. 

It  is  believed  that  the  influence  of  the  kava  ceremony  is  one  of  the  ex- 
planations for  the  amazing  stability  of  a  people  who,  as  Douglas  Oliver 
puts  it,  have  survived  "the  strong  impact  of  western  civilization  without 
losing  their  numbers,  their  strength,  their  dignity,  or  their  zest  for  a  good 
fight."  (P). 



(/)  AiTKEN,  Robert  T.  "Ethnology  of  Tubuai."  Honolulu,  Bishop  Museum  Bulletin 
No.  70,  1930. 

(2)  Barradale,  V.  A.  "Pearls  of  the  Pacific."  London,  London  Missionary  Society,  1907. 

(3)  Beaglehole,  Ernest  and  Pearl.  "Pangai :  Village  in  Tonga."  Wellington,  Poly- 

nesian Society,  Memoir  Vol.  18, 1941. 

( 4 )  Buck,  Sir  Peter.  "Samoan  Material  Culture."  Honolulu,  Bishop  Museum  Bulletin 

No.  75,  1930. 

(5)  Keesing,  Felix.  "Elite  Communication  in  Samoa."  Stanford,  Stanford  University 

Press,  1956. 

(6)  Kramer,  Augustin.  "Die  Samoa-Inseln,"  Stuttgart,  1902. 

(7)  Leenhardt,  Maurice.  "Gens  de  la  Grande  Terre."  Paris,  1937. 

(8)  Mead,  Margaret.  "Social  Organization  of  Manua."  Honolulu,  Bishop  Museum 

Bulletin  No.  76,  1930. 

(9)  Oliver,  Douglas.  "The  Pacific  Islands."  Cambridge,  Harvard  University  Press, 


(10)  Smith,  S.  Percy.  "Kava  Drinking  Ceremonies  among  the  Samoans  and  a  Boat 

Voyage  round  'Opulu  Island,  Samoa."  Journal  of  Polynesian  Society  Supple- 
ment, 1920. 

(11)  Stanner,  W.  E.  H.  "The  South  Seas  in  Transition."  Sydney,  Australasian  Pub- 

lishing Co.,  1953. 


Recent  Observations  on  the  Use 
of  Kava  in  the  New  Hebrides 

D.  Carleton  Gajdusek 

National  Institute  of  Neurological  Diseases  and  Blindness,  N.I.H. 
Bethesda,  Maryland 

Of  all  the  Pacific  islands  on  which  kava  is  still  used  today,  Tongariki  is  the 
one  on  whicji  its  use  has  attained  maximum  frequency  and  intensity.  I  have 
had  occasion  to  be  resident,  with  Professors  Jean  Guiart  and  Robert  Kirk, 
on  this  small  island  of  the  Sandwich  group  in  the  New  Hebrides,  for  several 
weeks  in  two  periods  during  the  past  three  years,  while  working  on  an  in- 
tensive study  of  human  adaptability  in  isolated  populations.  Quite  apart 
from  our  medical  and  genetic  studies,  we  were  soon  aware  that  the  entire 
social  life,  mood  and  spirit  of  the  island  villages  changed  nightly  at  dusk  to 
a  more  subdued,  Avhispering  and  cautious  quiet  than  we  had  seen  in  native 
villages  elsewhere  in  the  Pacific.  This  restrained  atmosphere  we  found  to  be 
caused  by  kava  drinking :  nightly,  most  of  the  men  Avere  drinking  fresh  kava. 

Whereas  on  most  Pacific  islands  kava  prepared  by  the  ancient  technique  of 
premastication  (particularly  of  the  fresh,  undried  root)  has  been  abandoned 
in  favor  of  a  much  less  pharmacologically  potent  beverage  made  by  grating 
or  pounding  the  root,  usually  dried,  here  on  Tongariki  the  current  extensive 
nonceremonial  drinking  of  kava  makes  use  of  the  "green",  freshly  harvested, 
locally-grown  root  and  of  mastication  and  salivary  digestion  of  the  pulp  by 
the  adolescent  and  young  men.  Fresh  cold  water  is  used  with  hand  mixing 
and  wringing  through  a  sieve  of  cocoanut  fiber  to  extract  the  active  in- 
gredients from  the  chewed  pulp.  The  many  variations  of  this  procedure  have 
been  described  exhaustively  since  the  earliest  reports  from  Captain  Cook's 
voyages,  and  similarities  in  minute  details  of  the  kava  ceremony  have  been 
used  to  suggest  affinities  between  peoples  on  different  islands.  On  Tongariki 
the  procedures  are  now  relatively  unformalized  and  thus  subject  to  consider- 
able variation.  Kava  drinking  on  this  island  is  unusual,  furthermore,  in  that 
its  extent  and  pattern  is  a  relatively  recent  phenomenon,  and  in  that  it  has 
reached  faddish  proportions  in  terms  of  the  number  of  kava  drinkers  and 
the  frequency  of  their  use  of  kava,  which  in  both  cases  exceeds  that  of  pre- 
European  contact. 

This  resurgence  of  kava  drinking  suggests  the  extensive  revival  of  kava 
usage  on  the  southern  New  Hebridean  island  of  Tanna  in  the  early  1940's  as 
a  ritual  of  a  flourishing  cargo  cult  which  repudiated  much  of  the  missionary 
teaching.  Jean  Guiart,  in  his  study  of  this  cargo  cult,  believed  that  the  fierce 
battle  the  Presbyterian  Church  had  waged  against  kava  drinking  had  focused 
undue  attention  onto  the  traditional  use  of  the  beverage ;  this  served  to  endow 
its  new  prohibition-defying  use  with  such  psychological  import  that  the  re- 
newal of  kava  drinking  became  an  important  part  of  this  anti-missionary 


movement,  which  appeared  on  the  island  during  World  War  II  and  has  not 
yet  subsided.  Early  in  the  cargo  movement  (called  the  John  Frum  movement 
after  a  neomythical  man  of  that  name)  there  was  an  anarchical  use  of  the 
drink,  without  respect  for  the  ancient  ceremonial  and  age-group  restrictions 
on  its  use;  even  adolescents  drank  it;  the  drinking  took  place  in  small  in- 
formal groups  at  odd  times  of  the  day  and  in  unappointed  places,  as  was 
never  permitted  in  pagan  times. 

Tongariki  has  a  population  of  about  500  living  in  four  small  villages ;  it 
has  not  had  a  full-blown  cargo  cult  or  Messianic  movement,  but  the  resur- 
gence of  the  use  of  kava  has  been  associated  with  a  reluctance  to  bojome 
involved  in  Protestant  mission  or  government -instigated  activities,  an  in- 
creased clannishness,  and  a  withdrawal  from  outside  contacts.  No  European 
missionary  has  ever  been  resident  on  Tongariki,  but  native  missionaries  from 
other  islands  have  been  sent  there  by  the  Presbyterian  Church.  In  spite  of 
attempts  to  suppress  it,  the  use  of  kava  here  was  never  fully  stopped;  in 
recent  years  most  adult  male  members  of  the  population  turn  each  night  to 
kava.  Moreover,  only  the  fresh  root  and  not  the  dry  variety  is  usually  em- 
ployed. The  users  still  attend  Sunday  church  services  on  the  island,  and  do 
not  associate  their  use  of  kava  with  a  revolt  against  the  church  such  as 
occurred  on  Tanna. 

Kava  drinking  on  Tongariki  is  a  relatively  relaxed  and  unceremonious 
affair,  without  the  strict  adherence  to  prescribed  etiquette  characteristic  of 
kava  drinking  in  much  of  the  Pacific.  It  is  prepared  entirely  by  chewing, 
never  by  the  use  of  mortars,  graters,  or  other  mechanical  aids.  Boys  from 
pre-adolescent  age  to  young  adulthood  usually  do  the  chewing  for  their 
kinsmen  or  guests,  or  out  of  courtesy  for  others.  Older  youths  or  young  men 
mix,  wash,  and  wring  the  kava  from  the  chewed  pulp.  Girls  and  women  may 
occasionally  participate  in  the  chewing,  whereas  this  was  not  so  in  the  past. 
Adolescents  and,  more  rarely,  women  may  drink  kava  without  censure.  It  is 
drunk  in  various  places  within  the  village  proper,  usually  in  a  quiet  house, 
and  strict  exclusion  of  children  and  women  from  the  proximity  and  view  of 
the  proceedings  has  lapsed.  Thus,  the  current  kava  drinking  on  Tongariki  is 
more  like  that  of  the  early  John  Frum  movement  on  Tanna  in  its  lack  of 
formality  and  restraints.  On  Tanna,  however,  by  the  1950's  kava  usage  had 
returned  essentially  to  the  old  traditional  ceremonially  controlled  forms. 

Usually,  half  of  a  cocoanut  shell  or  a  bowl  of  the  same  capacity  is  used  to 
prepare  the  kava  and  the  full  contents — about  100  ml. — drunk  slowly  in  one 
draught.  Sometimes  twice  this  quantity  is  drunk.  A  kava  drinker  usually 
eats  immediately  after  taking  the  kava;  the  kava  is  prepared  while  the 
evening  meal  is  being  cooked.  The  effects  come  on  in  a  half  hour  or  less,  and 
the  drinking  is  thus  usually  postponed  until  food  is  ready.  Those  who  have 
drunk  the  kava  find  a  comfortable  place  to  sit,  often  beside  a  dying  fire  in 
the  dark  house,  where  they  remain  hunched  over  and  avoiding  light  and 
sound  disturbances  of  all  sorts.  Conversation  ceases,  and  slowly  they  fall 
into  a  kava-induced  stupor,  which  is  not  true  sleep.  This  stage  occurs  about 
an  hour  after  drinking.  From  it  they  can  be  aroused  by  being  addressed  or 
gently  shaken,  but  this  ruins  the  effect  they  are  seeking  from  the  kava.  A 


few  hours  after  they  have  drunk  kava  they  arise  and  walk  to  their  own 
houses  to  fall  asleep  promptly  again;  others  remain  where  they  have  first 
"fallen".  In  early  morning  they  appear  fresh  and  without  any  "hangover"- 
like  sequelae.  Those  whom  we  have  seen  walking  a  few  hours  after  the  drink- 
ing are  usually  somewhat  ataxic,  photophobic,  and  slowed  in  their  reactions. 
A  few  who  have  had  a  higher  dose  are  extremely  ataxic  and  could  return 
to  their  homes  only  with  assistance  from  the  children  or  myself.  There  is 
no  belligerency  or  irritability — only  a  quiet  and  friendly  somnolence  asso- 
ciated with  the  weakness  of  the  lower  limbs  and  the  accompanying  ataxia. 

The  drinkers  reply  rationally  and  are  well  oriented  in  time,  place,  and 
person ;  they  respond  intelligently,  even  sometimes  quickly,  to  complex  ques- 
tions. Bright  or  moving  lights,  noise  or  other  sound,  touch,  and  even  the 
subdued  bustle  of  nearby  activity  annoy  them,  and  the  villagers  of  all  ages 
have  extreme  respect  for  this.  In  discussions  the  kava  users  refer  to  a  heavi- 
ness and  weakness  of  their  extremities,  particularly  of  the  feet  and  legs,  and 
to  an  earlier  paresthesia  ascending  from  their  feet  to  their  trunk  and  described 
with  such  words  as  "numbness",  "tingling",  and  "coldness".  They  demon- 
strate a  tactful  avoidance  of  the  disturbance  my  questioning  produces,  a 
very  subdued  annoyance  at  my  "breaking"  their  kava.  I  have  taken  pulse 
rates  and  blood  pressure  measurements  on  a  number  of  kava  drinkers  at 
varying  intervals  from  one  to  three  hours  after  drinking  and  found  no 
significant  change  in  either  from  that  observed  on  the  same  subjects  during 
examinations  in  the  da3i:ime,  when  they  had  had  no  kava  for  the  preceeding 
eighteen  hours  or  more.  Respiration  is  shallow  and  regular;  deep  tendon 
reflexes  remain  intact. 

Of  interest  to  us  in  our  genetic  studies  has  been  the  effects  that  kava  might 
have  on  fertility,  since  it  is  quite  evident  that  kava  drinkers  rarely  engage 
in  sexual  activity  on  the  nights  when  they  drink.  Interviews  with  the  women 
substantiate  this.  There  is  no  dearth  of  children  on  Tongariki,  but  the  popu- 
lation is  not  increasing  explosively  as  it  is  in  some  parts  of  the  Pacific,  and 
kava  drinking  may  serve  as  an  interesting  means  of  birth  control  for  the 
small  island,  which  could  be  easily  over-populated. 

Dam-Bakker,  DeGroot  and  Luyken  have  suspected  the  use  of  wati,  as 
kava  is  called  in  southwest  New  Guinea,  as  a  possible  cause  of  the  infertility 
in  the  Marind-Anim  people.  Their  studies  on  chronic  kava  administration 
to  rats,  however,  failed  to  demonstrate  any  impaired  fertility,  but  they  admit 
that  they  hardly  reproduced  essential  features  of  kava  use  in  the  human 
community  in  their  rat  experiments. 

Jean  Guiart  and  I  have  occasionally  taken  kava  with  the  natives,  and 
have  noticed  subjectively  little  difference  in  the  sequence  of  symptoms  and 
reactions  from  those  reported  by  many  Pacific  voyagers  since  Captain 
Cook's  days.  A  few  peculiar  paresthesiae  of  the  face,  legs  and  arms — espe- 
cially of  the  legs — a  slight  feeling  of  numbness,  tingling,  coldness  and  then 
weakness,  accompanied  early  by  shorter  flashes  of  warmth  or  flush,  occurred 
during  the  first  half  hour  after  ingestion.  We  have  boorishly  "broken"  our 
kava  at  times,  and  walked  off  to  engage  in  other  activities  without  noticeable 
impairment  of  motor  or  sensory  function.  This  has  been  after  rather  low 

262-016  0-67— 10 


doses.  There  is,  with  higher  doses,  a  pleasant,  relaxing,  paresthesia-enjoying, 
refreshing  state  of  somnolence  without  mental  dulling  which  eventually 
leads  to  sleep.  At  times,  members  of  our  team  have  taken  large  doses — a 
large  cocoanut  shell  full — and  real  weakness,  even  a  paresis  making  walking 
impossible,  has  been  present  for  several  hours  after  ingestion.  Such  an  over- 
dose left  one  of  us  slightly  ataxic  with  a  persistent  feeling  of  weakness  in  the 
lower  limbs  on  into  the  next  morning. 

Several  recent  accounts  report  little  or  no  pharmacological  action  from 
kava  prepared  from  grated  or  pounded  dried  kava  root  and  used  socially 
or  ceremonially  on  Fiji  and  Samoa.  My  own  experience  in  drinking  such 
kava  in  Fijian  villages  is  the  same  lack  of  effect.  It  is  this  dried  kava  root 
that  has  entered  commerce,  particularly  on  Fiji,  and  I  wonder  whether  it  is 
not  this  product  that  has  been  used  in  the  pharmacological  and  chemical 
laboratories.  The  freshly  harvested  root,  prepared  by  chewing,  appears  to 
result  in  the  more  potent  preparation,  the  effects  of  which  I  have  described. 
The  stronger  physiological  actions  of  the  kava  used  on  Tongariki  and  Tanna 
may  well  be  from  the  use  of  freshly  harvested  root  rather  than  dried  root, 
but  there  is  also  the  possibility  that  the  chewing  and  salivary  digestion  that 
is  used  to  break  up  the  fibers  and  emulsify  the  ingredients  may  be  responsible 
for  the  pharmacologically  more  potent  product.  It  is  also  likely  that  a  higher 
dose  of  active  ingredients  is  taken  on  Tongariki,  since  a  considerably  more 
concentrated  extract  appears  to  be  prepared ;  far  more  root  is  used  per  indi- 
vidual drinker  than  on  Fiji  or  Samoa. 


Historical  and  Ethnographic  Accounts  of  Kava  Usage 

AiTKEN,  R.  T.  "Ethnology  of  Tubuai."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  70,  (Bayard 
Dominick  Expedition,  publication  no.  19),  Honolulu,  Hawaii,  42,  1930. 

Beaglehole,  E.  and  P.  "Ethnology  of  Pukapuka."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  150, 
Honolulu,  Hawaii,  25,  1938. 

Beabdmore,  E.  "The  natives  of  Mowat,  Daudai,  New  Guinea."  Journal  of  the  Anthropo- 
logical Institute  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  19  :  460,  1889-90. 

Bevan,  T.  F.  "Toll,  travel,  and  discovery  in  British  New  Guinea."  London,  258,  1890. 

BiEO,  S.  L.  "Neu-Guinea  (Astrolabe  Bai)."  Ethnograflsche  Sammlung  des  Ungarischer 
Museums,  3:  (Budapest),  102,  1901. 

BoUEGAKEL,  A.  "Des  races  de  I'Oceanie  Frangaise  de  celles  de  la  Nouvelle-Calidonie. 
In  particnlier,  seconde  partie."  Memoirs  de  la  Societe  d'Anthropologie  de  Paris,  2 : 
403,  1865. 

Buck,  P.  H.  "Samoan  material  culture."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  Honolulu,  Hawaii, 

No.  75,  92,  140,  147-164,  545,  548,  641,  679,  1930. 
 "Ethnology  of  Tongareva."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  92,  Honolulu,  Hawaii, 

81,119-121,  (April)  1932. 
  "Ethnology  of  Manihiki-Rakanga."  By  Te  Rangi  Hiroa.  Bernice  P.  Bishop, 

Museum  No.  99,  Honolulu,  Hawaii,  1932. 
  "Mangaian  society."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  122,  Honolulu,  Hawaii, 


 "Ethnology  of  Mangareva."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  157,  Honolulu,  Hawaii, 


  "Arts  and  crafts  of  the  Cook  Islands."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum  No.  179, 

Honolulu,  Hawaii,  18-20,  1944. 


BtiHLEB,  A.  "Versuch  einer  Bevolkerungs-und  Kulturanalyse  auf  den  Admiralitat- 

sinseln."  Zeitschrift  fiir  Bthnologie,  67  : 1-32, 1935. 
Burrows,  E.  G.  "Ethnology  of  Futuna."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  138,  Honolulu, 

Hawaii,  200-204, 1936. 

 ■  "Ethnology  of  Uvea  (Wallis  Island)."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum,  No.  145, 

Honolulu,  Hawaii,  75-76, 139-148, 1937. 
Christian,  F.  W.  "The  Caroline  Islands."  London,  86,  87,  100,  188-193,  211,  1899. 
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Chemistry  of  Kava 


Riker  Laboratories,  Northridge,  California 

Kava  (/)  is  one  of  the  popular  names  for  the  intoxicating  drink  prepared 
from  the  roots  of  the  plant  Piper  methystioum  Forst.  by  the  inhabitants  of 
the  South  Pacific  Islands.  The  interesting  tranquilizing  properties  ascribed 
to  this  romantic  brew  has  prompted  numerous  chemical  investigations  over 
the  last  century,  in  the  search  for  the  physiologically  active  principles.  These 
investigations  have  resulted  in  the  isolation  of  a  series  of  closely  related  sub- 
stituted 5,6-dihydro-a-py rones  (Fig.  1),  members  of  which  have  been  shown 
to  possess  some  of  the  actions  on  the  central  nervous  system  exhibited  by  the 
Kava  extract,  and  a  series  of  substituted  a-pyrones  (Figs.  2  and  3)  which  are 
relatively  inactive  in  the  test  system  employed. 

The  first  of  the  compounds  to  be  isolated  in  the  5,6-dihydro-a-pyrone  series, 
methysticin,  was  reported  by  Cuzent  in  1861,  followed  in  turn  by  Winzhei- 
mers  isolation  of  dihydromethysticin  in  1908.  The  most  extensive  investiga- 
tion of  this  plant,  however,  was  carried  out  by  Borsche  and  coworkers,  who 
reported  their  findings  in  a  series  of  fourteen  papers  published  between  1914 
and  1933.  This  work  covered  the  isolation  of  Kawain  and  dihydrokawain,- 
and  their  structural  elucidation  along  with  that  of  methysticin  and  dihydro- 
methysticin. (Figure  1) 


Kawain  Dihydrokawain 

Fig.  1 

Yangonin  (Figure  2)  was  isolated  by  Reidel  in  1904,  and  the  y-pyrone  struc- 
ture (I)  was  proposed  by  Borsche.  This  stood  as  the  only  naturally  occurring 
2-methoxy-y-pyrone  derivative  until  1958  when  Chmielewska,  on  the  basis 
of  spectral  data,  revised  the  structure  to  that  of  an  a-pyrone  (II).  Secure 
support  for  these  spectroscopic  deductions  has  now  been  established  by  the 
unambiguous  synthesis  of  yangonin  by  Bu'Lock  and  Smith. 


Fig.  2 

In  more  recent  times  subsequent  investigators  have  added  four  new  com- 
pounds to  the  a-pyrone  series,  with  the  isolation  of  5,6-dehydromethysticin, 
desmethoxyyangonin,  11-methoxyyangonin  and  11-methoxynoryangonin  (^) 
(Figure  3).  The  Structures  of  these  compounds  have  been  confirmed  by 

I  l-Melhoxyyangonin  I  l-Mefhoxy-nor-yangonin 

Fig.  3 

With  the  structures  of  a  physiologically  active  series  of  natural  products 
established  and  the  synthesis  of  analogues  feasible,  it  is  only  natural  for  the 
medicinal  chemist  and  pharmacologist  to  turn  next  to  a  molecular  modifica- 
tion program  to  seek  an  optimum  relationship  between  structure  and  activity. 
In  studies  with  this  objective  in  mind,  which  were  carried  out  in  our  labora- 
tory some  twelve  years  ago,  the  physiological  activities  of  the  naturally 
occurring  compounds  (Table  I)  that  had  been  isolated  at  that  time  were 
used  as  the  base  line  for  comparison  with  the  activities  of  the  synthetic  ana- 


logues.  In  these  experiments  the  compounds  were  administered  orally  to  mice 
in  a  10%  Tween  suspension,  and  screened  initially  for  their  effect  on  the  cen- 
tral nervous  system  as  determined  by  their  ability  to  antagonize  strychnine 
induced  convulsions  and  death,  cause  fall  out  in  the  roller  cage  experiments, 
and  potentiate  sodium  pentobarbital  induced  sleeping  time. 



SIq  ooin  o 




In  % 

ffifl  /  K a 

fng  /  Kg 


fftg  /  Kq 



340  (270-430) 

300  no 





no  protection  ot 


300  no 





215  (160-290) 

300  no 




Dcsmethoxy  yangonin 

no  protection  ot 


300  no 





160  (110-232) 

300  no 





115  (97-152) 

300  no 




Chloroform  •itract 

140  (121-162) 

300  12/18 



Ground  root 

1,700  (1,400-2.100) 





Table  I 

On  the  basis  of  these  results  it  can  'be  seen  that  the  crude  extract,  methy- 
sticin  and  dihydromethysticin  were  particularly  effective  in  affording  pro- 
tection against  the  lethal  effects  of  strychnine.  Using  "fall-out"  from  revolv- 
ing cages  as  an  index,  none  of  the  crystalline  compounds  had  significant 
activity  which  is  in  sharp  contrast  to  the  ground  root  and  the  crude  extract. 
On  the  basis  of  this  latter  test  it  would  seem  reasonable  to  say  that  there  are 
compounds  present  in  the  extract  possessing  this  activity  which  have  not  as 
yet  been  isolated.  Dihydromethysticin  proved  to  be  the  most  potent  agent  in 
increasing  the  pentobarbital-induced  sleeping  time,  showing  good  activity 
at  60  mg/kg  whereas  the  other  compounds  were  only  slightly  or  moderately 
active  at  160  mg/kg. 

The  physiological  activity  observed  with  methysticin  and  dihydromethy- 
sticin as  compared  to  yangonin  and  desmethoxy yangonin,  indicated  the 
importance  of  the  5,6-dihydro-a-pyrone  ring  to  overall  activity,  and  this  was 
corroborated  further  by  the  complete  loss  of  activity  observed  in  the  three 
test  systems  on  opening  the  lactone  ring  of  methysticin  to  yield  methysticic 
acid  (Figure  4). 

With  this  knowledge  on  hand  a  number  of  Ce  substituted  5,6-dihydro-a- 
pyrone  derivatives  were  prepared  (3)  by  the  Reformatsky  condensation  of  the 
appropriate  aldehyde  and  methyl-y-bromo-/8-methoxycrotonate,  using  the 
conditions  as  previously  employed  in  our  synthesis  of  dl-methysticin  (Figure 



dl  —  methytticin 





m«thysticic  acid 

Fig.  4 


CH-CH-CHO         +       BrCHg-C^CH  — COOCH3 

3,  4  —  mefhylenedloxy 

"iT—  bromo  -  /-msthoxy- 

THF  -Zn  ^ 




dl  — mtthyiticin 

Fig.  5 

In  the  first  series  of  analogues  (Table  II) ,  the  ethylene  bridge  of  dihydro- 
methysticin  was  omitted  as  represented  by  compound  2,  and  methoxyl  groups 
were  substituted  in  place  of  the  ethylenedioxy  group  as  shown  by  compounds 
3  and  4.  These  screening  results  would  indicate  that  the  methylenedioxy  group 
is  the  preferred  substituent  and  that  the  loss  of  the  ethylene  group  causes  a 
decrease  in  activity  over  dihydromethysticin  as  measured  by  its  ability  to 
inhibit  strychnine  convulsions  and  potentiate  barbiturate  sleep  time.  There 
is  an  indication,  however,  of  activity  in  the  roller  cage  where  dihydromethy- 
sticin is  inactive. 

The  effect  of  varying  the  ethylene  bridge  on  activity  is  shown  in  Table  III. 
The  first  and  second  compounds,  where  the  bridge  has  been  lengthened  to 
butylene  and  butadienyl  respectively,  showed  little  activity  with  the  excep- 
tion of  sleep  time  potentiation  with  the  butylene  analogue.  The  third  com- 








ED5Q+  95%  C  L 



in  % 


fDQ  /  Kg 


fng  /  Kg 




470  (375-590) 





260  (210-320) 






950  (680-1480) 






no  protection 
ot  500 






Table  II 










in  % 


no  protection 
at  500 





j^^^^(CH=CH  )2- 

50%  protection 
at  500 





no  protection 





60%  protection 






Table  III 

pound,  in  which  a  methyl  group  has  been  introduced  on  the  carbon  adjacent 
to  the  pyrone  ring  of  dihydromethysticin,  gave  no  protection  at  500  mg/kg 
against  strychnine,  slight  activity  in  the  roller  cage,  and  the  highest  activity 
of  all  the  compounds  in  the  potentiation  of  sleep  time.  The  last  compound, 
which  is  the  corresponding  analogue  of  methysticin,  evidenced  some  activity 
in  protecting  against  the  effects  of  strychnine  at  500  mg/kg,  but  good  activity 
was  observed  in  the  roller  cage  and  the  potentiation  of  sleep  time. 

The  last  series  of  compounds  (Table  IV)  represent  a  more  radical  depar- 
ture from  the  structure  of  dihydromethysticin.  In  the  first  compound,  where 
R  is  3,4-methylenedioxyphenylethyl  and  is  methyl,  there  was  no  protection 
obtained  at  500  mg/kg  against  strychnine,  moderate  activity  in  the  roller  cage, 
and  activity  exceeding  that  of  dihydromethysticin  in  the  potentiation  of  sleep 
time.  In  the  second  compound  where  R  is  phenyl  and  R^  is  methyl,  there  was 
again  no  protection  afforded  against  strychnine  at  500  mg/kg,  there  was  good 
activity  in  the  roller  cage  and  moderate  activity  in  sleep  time  potentiation. 
In  the  last  compound,  where  both  R  and  R^  are  phenyl,  no  significant  activity 
was  observed  in  the  first  two  tests  and  moderate  activity  was  realized  in  the 
potentiation  of  sleep  time. 

All  of  the  above  synthetic  compounds  including  dl-methysticin  and  dl- 
dihydromethysticin,  with  the  exception  of  compounds  1  and  2  in  Table  III, 
were  then  screened  against  supramaximal  electroshock  at  an  oral  dose  of  770 
mg/kg.  At  this  dose  range  only  compound  1  in  Table  II,  compounds  3  and  4 
in  Table  III,  and  dl-methysticin  and  dl-dihydromethysticin,  showed  signifi- 
cant activity,  giving  50%  protection  or  better. 

On  reviewing  the  structure  activity  relationship  observed  in  this  series  of 
compounds  it  is  apparent  that  the  5,6-dihydro-4-methoxy-a-pyrone  ring  plays 



Roller  cage 
300  mg/Kg 

Sleeping  time 
dote        in  % 
mg/Kg  control* 





no  protection 
at  500 


20  250 

.  0 


no  protection 
at  500 


160  266 

.  0 


no  protection 
at  500 


160  331 

Table  IV 


a  key  role  in  the  physiological  activities  as  evidenced  by  the  loss  of  activity 
realized  on  opening  of  the  lactone  ring,  or  by  the  introduction  of  imsaturation 
in  the  Cs-Ce  position.  Rigid  overall  specificity  for  drug  receptor  interaction 
in  this  series  is  discounted,  however,  by  the  variations  of  substituents  which 
can  be  substituted  at  Ce  while  retaining  activity  in  one  or  more  of  the  test 
systems  employed. 


(1)  References  to  the  work  covered  in  this  paper  may  be  found,  unless  otherwise  cited, 

in  three  recent  reviews :  (a)  Keller,  F.,  and  M.  W.  Klohs,  Lloydia,  26 : 1-15  (1963)  ; 
(b)  Mors,  W.  B.,  M.  T.  Magalhaes  and  O.  R.  Gottlieb.  In  L.  Zechmeister  Progress 
in  the  Chemistry  of  Organic  Natural  Products,  Vol.  20,  Wien,  Springer  Verlag  pp 
131-164;  (c)  Hansel,  R.,  Deut.  Apoteka  ztg.  104  (15)  :  459-64  (1964)  and  104  (16)  : 
496-501  (1964). 

(2)  Hansel,  R.,  H.  Saver  and  H.  Rimplee,  Arch.  Pharm.  299 : 507-511  (1966) . 

(3)  Tanabe,  M.,  J.  BoLGEE,  F.  J.  Petbacek,  F.  Kellee,  M.  W.  Klohs  and  G.  B.  Ceonheim, 

Unpublished  work  from  these  laboratories. 


Pharmacology  of  Kava 

Hans  J.  Meyer 

Department  of  Pharmacology,  University  of  Freiburg,  Germany 

Pursuant  to  a  continuing  study  of  the  pharmacological  properties  ot 
the  Kava  rhizome  (Piper  methysticum  Forst),  the  six  Ce-aryl-substituted 
alpha-py rones  kawain  (K),  dihydrokawain  (DHK),  methysticin  (M), 
dihydromethysticin  (DHM),  yangonin  (Y),  and  desmethoxyyangonin 
(DMY)  isolated  from  the  rootstock,  were  further  investigated  in  attempts 
to  bring  the  central  nervous  and  peripheral  effects  observed  in  man  after 
consumption  of  Kava  preparations  (Forbes  1875,  Kesteven  1882,  Thomson 
1908,  Deihl  1932,  Leclerc  1937,  Van  Esveld  1937,  Van  Veen  1938,  Titcomb 
1948,  Frater  1968)  in  relation  to  adequately  characterized  constituents  of 
the  plant.  Major  interest  Avas  attributed  to  the  question,  in  how  far  these 
substances  can  be  regarded  as  the  active  principles  of  the  drug. 

Because  of  low  water  solubility  the  pyrones  were  dissolved  in  peanut 
oil  for  the  intraperitoneal  and  oral  route  of  application.  For  intravenous 
injections  and  on  isolated  organs  polyethylene  glycol  (Carbowax)  300  was 

As  is  shown  in  FIG.  1,  the  absorption  of  K  and  DHK  from  the  gas- 
trointestinal tract  was  remarkably  rapid.  The  time  of  peak  effect  in  mice 

100  r 


0      10    20    30  60  90  120  180 


Fig.  1. — Duration  of  action  of  genuine  Kava  pyrones  after  oral  administration  in  mice. 
Prevention  of  the  tonic  extensor  component  of  maximal  electroshock  seizure  (MES 
test).  Corneal  electrodes;  square  impulses  of  50  mA,  60  Hz,  0.3  sec,  1  msec.  Each  point 
represents  the  mean  of  15  animals.  Doses  employed:  150  mg/kg  of  kawain  (K)  and 
dihydrokawain  (DHK),  70  mg/kg  of  methysticin  (M)  and  dihydromethysticin  (DHM) . 
Notice  the  rapid  onset  of  K  and  DHK  action  as  compared  to  that  of  M  and  DHM, 
the  latter  being  about  twice  as  effective  when  given  orally. 


proved  to  be  10  min  as  judged  by  the  MES  test.  M  and  DHM  have  a  longer 
induction  period  (30^5  min)  and  an  appreciably  longer  duration  of  action 
in  equieffective  doses. 

The  most  characteristic  central  nervous  action  of  all  Kava  pyrones,  in- 
cluding Y  and  DMY,  was  shown  to  be  their  ability  to  produce  a  mephenesin- 
like  muscular  relaxation  in  all  species  of  laboratory  animals.  According  to 
Meyer  and  Kretzschmar  (1966),  who  were  the  first  to  recognize  this  mecha- 
nism of  action,  Kava  pyrones  represent  a  new  group  of  potent  centrally 
acting  skeletal  muscle  relaxants,  the  first  of  natural  origin.  Larger  doses  of 
the  pyrones,  with  the  exception  of  Y  and  DMY,  produce  ataxia  and  an  as- 
cending paralysis  without  loss  of  consciousness,  followed  by  complete  re- 
covery. Pyrones  were  most  effective  when  given  intravenously  (10-30  mg/ 
kg) ;  the  oral  median  paralyzing  dose  is  some  10  times  higher.  In  doses 
causing  muscular  relaxation  and  paralysis  Kava  pyrones  did  not  possess  a 
curare-like  action  on  the  myoneural  junction  (Meyer  1966).  Death  after 
large  oral  or  intraperitoneal  doses  is  the  result  of  respiratory  failure. 

Kava  pyrones  were  found  to  depress  polysynaptic  responses  such  as  the 
flexor,  crossed  extensor,  skin  twitch,  pinna — prior  to  corneal — and  linguo- 
mandibular  reflexes  in  unanaesthetized  animals.  Effective  doses  ranged  from 
20-40  mg/kg  iv.,  whereas  in  anaesthetized  animals  corresponding  doses  were 
fomid  to  be  5-10  times  smaller.  An  example  is  presented  in  FIG.  2,  show- 
ing the  depressant  effect  of  5  and  10  mg/kg  of  Y  and  DHM  on  the  crossed 
extensor  reflex  in  the  anaesthetized  guinea-pig.  The  normal  knee  jerk  was 
aside  from  a  transient  increase  in  reflex  magnitude  little  or  not  affected. 
Most  sensitive  to  the  pyrones  proved  to  be  the  tonic  stretch  reflex  (Meyer 
and  Kretzschmar  1966).  Thus,  in  unanaesthetized  rabbits  and  guinea-pigs 
the  tonic  responses  of  alpha  montoneurons  to  muscle  stretch  were  either 

Fig.  2. — Effect  of  yangonin  {Y)  5  and  10  mg/kg  and  dihydromethysticin  {DHM)  6  mg/kg 
on  the  crossed  extensor  reflex.  Guinea-pig,  male,  740g.  Urethane  1.0  g/kg  intraperitoneally . 
Reflex  elicited  every  5  sec.  Pyrones  given  intravenously  in  30  sec.  Stimulation  of  the 
afferent  stump  of  sciatic  nerve:  5.4  mA,  1  msec  duration.  Notice  equipotency  of  Y 
and  DHM  relaxation  of  the  quadriceps  muscle  indicated  by  the  lowering  of  base  line, 
and  slower  onset  of  Y  action  compared  to  that  of  DHM.  Mi=miction. 


DHM  K  Meph 

15  mg/kg  15  mg/kg  40  mg/kg 

I — I — I — I  i  I  I  I — I  1 1 — I — I — I — I — I — I — I — I  I  I  :  I  I  I  '    ■    '    r  f 


Fig.  3. — Inhibition  of  the  tonic  stretch  reflex  by  dihydromethysticin  (DHM),  kawain  (K), 
and  mephenesin  (Meph).  Rabbit,  male,  3.1  kg,  unanaesthetized.  Electromyograms  of 
the  quadriceps  muscle,  before  and  1,  5,  10,  and  20  min  after  injection.  The  injections 
were  given  intravenously  with  2  hours  interval.  Time  of  stretch  is  indicated  by  points. 

abolished  or  restricted  to  an  initial  phasic  response  by  15  mg/kg  of  K 
or  DHM  intravenously.  The  action  of  mephenesin  was  about  3  times  weaker 
and  much  shorter  in  duration  (FIG.  3).  Doses  which  produce  decrease 
or  block  of  spinal  reflexes  had  little  effect  on  the  electroencephalogram 
(FIG.  4),  and  left  EEG  arousal  from  stimulation  of  the  midbrain  reticular 
formation  unimpaired. 

In  protecting  mice  from  convulsions  and  death  caused  by  toxic  doses  of 
strychnine  Kava  pyrones  proved  to  be  considerably  more  effective  than 
mephenesin.  Thus,  complete  protection  from  4  mg/kg  strychnine  sulf .  sc.  was 
afforded  by  the  intraperitoneal  dose  of  50  mg/kg  of  M,  the  most  effec- 
tive of  the  pyrones,  whereas  mephenesin  was  ineffective  in  antago- 
nizing this  degree  of  intoxication  independent  of  the  dose  employed. 
With  high  doses  of  the  pyrones  (from  120  mg/kg  intraperitoneally  up- 
wards) there  was  a  seizure  syndrome  of  long  periods  of  generalized  clonic 
convulsions  (15-17/sec)  similar  to  that  observed  after  barbiturates  or 
meprobamate  (Loewe  1958;  Simon  1959).  In  addition,  all  six  Kava  pyrones 
were  effective  in  depressing  or  abolishing  the  maximal  tonic  seizure  induced 
by  electroshock  in  mice.  At  the  time  of  peak  effect  the  following  ED50  values 
(in  mg/kg)  were  found  after  oral  administration:  70  K,  98  DHK,  44.5  M, 


vor  Jnjaktion 

,\-^vnV'*V */i*:^'^r}^}  ^«r^<^jA'^  .Vv*aU\vi^4-,V-'j^;\«'VwV/-^.^^  -.v 

Jnjektion  von  40  mg/kg  DHM  i.v. 

3  min 

10  min  i  ,  I  '  I 

30  min 

90  min  ill  ""A^ 

Fig.  4. —  Spontaneous  cerebral  cortex  electrical  activity  in  the  unanaesthetized  rabbit  before 
and  after  injection  of  Ifi  mglkg  of  dihydromethysiicin  (DHM)  intravenously.  Duration 
of  injection  100  sec.  The  dose  produced  complete  paralysis.  Bipolar  electrodes  on  sen- 
somotor  cortex.  The  records  cover  experimental  periods  of  5  sec  each,  obtained  3,  10, 
30,  and  90  min  after  injection. 



OS        W  2J) 


Fig.  5. — Local  anaesthetic  activity  of  genuine  Kava  pyrones.  Mean  effective  concentrations 
as  established  by  the  intracutaneous  wheal  method  in  guinea-pigs.  The  graph  shows 
the  relation  between  the  concentration  of  the  various  pyrones  (abscissae,  logarithmic 
scale)  and  the  average  response  from  6  animals  for  each  concentration  (ordinates). 
The  dose  was  always  injected  in  0.25  ml  of  peanut  oil,  which  proved  to  be  inert.  The 
response  was  tested  6  times  in  succession  1  min  after  injection. 


50.5  DHM,  420  DMY,  and  740  Y;  by  intravenous  injection  these  figures 
were:  6.0  K,  6.1  DHK,  6.2  M,  8.1  DHM,  6.25  DMY,  11.5  Y,  respectively, 
showing  the  striking  difference  in  Y  and  DMY  potency  with  the  route 
of  administration.  Pyrone  anticonvulsant  activity  and  time  course  of  action 
after  intravenous  administration  were  intermediate  between  mephenesin 
and  procaine  HCl  with  maximum  effects  1  min  after  injection,  made  in 
15  sec.  The  effect  produced  by  10  mg/kg  most  commonly  had  worn  off 
after  20  min. 

In  addition  to  inducing  changes  in  motor  function,  reflex  irritability  and 
seizure  threshold  and  pattern  (Meyer  1964),  Kava  py rones  reduced  the 
edema  produced  by  formalin,  serotonin,  dextran,  or  carrageenin.  Their  anti- 
pyretic action  is  mild.  Contractions  of  isolated  ileum  or  uterus  produced  by 
histamine,  barium,  acetylcholine,  bradykinin,  5-HT,  or  nicotine  were  in- 
hibited by  the  pyrones  in  concentrations  of  1 :1.000.000  to  1 :100.000.  This  ap- 
plies to  all  pyrones,  including  DMY  and  Y.  Kava  pyrones  posses  local 
anaesthetic  properties.  Median  anaesthetic  concentrations  as  established  by 
the  intracutaneous  wheal  method  in  guinea-pigs  (FIG.  5)  increase  in  the 
following  sequence:  K  0.36%,  M  0.37%,  DHK  0.50%,  DHM  0.60%,  DMY 
1.0%,  and  Y>1.0%.  Comparable  values  of  procaine  HCl,  benzocaine  and 
mephenesin  were  found  to  be  0.10%,  0.34%  and  0.36%,  respectively.  In  sur- 
face anaesthesia  K  was  shown  to  be  equipotent  to  cocaine  HCl,  when  con- 
centrations of  0.5%  were  employed.  Its  duration  of  action  was  markedly 
longer  than  that  of  benzococaine  (FIG.  6).  Further  details  concerning  the 
antiinflammatory,  spasmolytic  and  local  anaesthetic  properties  of  the  Kava 
pyrones  were  previously  described  (Meyer  1965a,b;  Meyer  and  May  1964). 

As  can  be  seen  in  FIG.  7,  rapid  intravenous  injection  of  10-30  mg/kg 
DHM  causes  a  transient  drop  in  blood  pressure  which  depends  on  speed  of 
injection  and  which  was  stronger  in  anaesthetized  than  in  unanaesthetized 
rabbits.  The  mechanism  underlying  this  action  appears  to  be  primarily  the 
result  of  peripheral  vasodilatation.  In  intact  cats,  rabbits  and  mice  the  blood 
pressure  fall  after  DHM  was  followed  by  a  characteristic  bradycardia  lasting 
several  hours  with  a  maximum  reduction  of  heart  rate  by  40%.  This  effect  was 
not  observed  in  anaesthetized  animals  and  was  almost  completely  prevented 
by  previous  injection  of  atropine  or  bilateral  vagotomy.  No  intravascular 
hemolysis  was  obtained  in  cats  with  solutions  containing  20  mg/ml  DHM 
or  pyrone  mixture.  Oral  or  intraperitoneal  administration  of  Kava  pyrones 
had  little  or  no  effect  on  cardiovascular  functions. 

It  has  been  established  that  Y  and  DMY  possess  only  weak  central  nervous 
activity  when  given  orally  or  intraperitoneally.  On  intravenous  injection  and 
in  experiments  on  isolated  organs,  however,  the  potency  of  both  pyrones 
was  shown  to  be  of  the  same  order  of  magnitude  as  observed  with  the  other 
pyrones  of  the  kavaroot,  indicating  poor  absorption  from  the  gut  resp. 
peritoneum  and/or  rapid  elimination  of  these  materials.  In  further  experi- 
ments it  was  found  that  the  activity  of  orally  or  intraperitoneally  admin- 
istered Y  or  DMY  is  markedly  increased  when  given  in  combination  with 
other  pyrones.  Both  Y  and  DMY  proved  to  be  synergistic  with  all  other 

262-016  0-67— 11 


-°  Benzocaine 
*  Cocaine 

30  AO  50  60 





Fig.  6. — Surface  anaesthetic  action  produced  by  kawain,  benzocaine  and  cocaine  HCl  in 
the  cornea  of  the  rabbit.  Concentrations  tested  were  0.5,  1.0,  and  2.0%,  respectively. 
Abscissa  is  time  in  minutes  after  instillation  and  ordinate  is  degree  of  anaesthesia  in 
the  range  between  zero  and  maximum  possible  effect  (=36).  Each  point  represents  the 
mean  of  6  animals.  The  corneal  reflex  was  tested  6  times  in  succession  at  5  min  intervals 
until  anaesthesia  had  worn  ofif.  Kawain  and  benzocaine  were  instilled  in  0.25  ml  of 
peanut  oil,  cocaine  HCZ  in  saline. 









30  mg/kg  DHM  i.v. 

15  20  25 




Fig.  7. — Responses  of  heart  rate  and  femoral  arterial  pressure  to  the  intravenous  injection 
of  SO  mg/kg  dihydromethysticin  (DHM).  Rabbit,  female,  2.7  kg,  unanesthetized.  The 
injection  was  given  in  30  sec.  Systolic  and  diastolic  blood  pressure  obtained  before 
injection  are  indicated  throughout  the  whole  experiment  by  the  broken  lines  showing 
the  increment  in  amplitude  under  DHM. 


mg/kg     YAN60NIN  i.p. 

Fig.  8. — Isobologram  of  combined  yangonin-pyrone  mixture  effects  in  protecting  mice  from 
electrically  induced  convulsions  {MES  test).  Abscissae:  dose  scale  of  yangonin  (Yj, 
ordinates:  dose  scale  of  pyrone  mixture  (PM)  consisting  of  methysticin,  dihydro- 
methysticin,  kawain,  and  dihydrokawain  in  equal  parts.  All  injections  were  given 
intraperitoneally,  Y  and  PM  at  the  same  time.  Ratios  of  PM:Y  tested  were  4 : 1  to 
1:  6.  Open  circles  indicate  percentage  of  protected  animals,  triangles  the  mean  effective 
doses  (ED50).  The  isobole  of  combined  doses  having  the  same  anticonvulsant  effect 
(ED50)  is  represented  by  the  line  connecting  the  triangles.  Rectilinear  connection 
between  ED50  of  PM  (26  mg/kg)  and  ED50  of  Y  (1.000  mg/kg)  ==  isobole  of  addition. 
Y  was  without  any  effect  when  given  alone  in  doses  up  to  300  mg/kg  ip. 

pyrones  studied  in  producing  muscular  relaxation,  hypothermia  or  prevent- 
ing mice  from  MES  (Meyer  et  al.) .  This  potentiation  could  be  demonstrated 
in  isobolometric  experiments;  an  example  is  presented  in  FIG.  8.  The  greatly 
arcuate  course  of  the  isobole  of  median  anticonvulsive  doses  running  far 
below  the  rectilinear  isobole  of  addition  is  characteristic  of  an  effect  more 
than  additive.  On  the  other  hand,  5,  6-hydrogenated  pyrones,  behaved 
additive  when  given  in  combination. 

The  experiments  have  shown  that  all  the  six  known  pyrones  of  the  Kava 
rootstock  are  pharmacologically  effective,  differences  in  action  being  largely 
quantitative  in  nature.  The  finding  that  Y  as  well  as  DMY,  contrary  to  all 
previous  reports  on  this  matter  since  the  beginning  of  Kava  investigation, 
represent  biologically  active  principles  especially  on  combined  administra- 
tion with  the  other  pyrones,  is  of  particular  interest  in  view  of  the  relatively 
high  amount  of  these  two  compounds  in  the  kavaroot  which  is  reported 
to  be  one  quarter  to  one  third  of  total  pyrone  content  (Hansel  and  Beiers- 
dorff,  1959;  Klohs  et  al.,  1959).  The  synergism  between  Y  and  the  other 
pyrones  may  provide  an  explanation  for  the  high  activity  of  a  chloroform 
extract  and  of  the  crude  root,  reported  by  Klohs  et  al.  (1959),  which 
according  to  the  authors  was  not  evidenced  by  any  of  the  pure  isolated  ma- 


terials.  The  central  nervous  and  peripheral  activities  of  the  pyrones  as  re- 
ported herein  further  substantiate  the  idea  that  the  various  etlinopharma- 
cological  phenomena  ascribed  to  Piper  methysticum  are  due  to  the  pyrone 
content  of  the  plant. 

DiEHX,  J.  R. :  Primitive  Man,  5,  61  (1932) . 

FoKBES,  L. :  "Two  Years  in  Fiji,"  London  1875,  p.  190-195,  235-236. 
Featee,  a.  S.  :  Trans.  Proc.  Fiji  Soc.  Sci.  Ind.,  5, 81  (1958) . 
Hansel,  R.,  and  Beiersdorff,  H.  U.  :  Arzneimittelforsch.,  9,  581  (1959). 
Kesteton,  L.  :  Practitioner  (London),  199-201  (1882). 

Klohs,  M.  W.,  Kellee,  F.,  Williams,  R.  E.,  Toekes,  M.  I.,  and  Ceonheim,  G  E.  : 

J.  med.  pharmaceut.  chem.,  1,  95  (1959). 
Leleec,  H.  :  Presse  medicale.  No.  9, 164  (1937) . 
LoEWE,  S. :  Arch.  int.  Pharmacodyn.,  114,  451  (1958). 
Meteb,  H.  J. :  Arch.  int.  Pharmacodyn.,  150, 118  (1964) . 
Meteb,  H.  J.,  and  May,  H.  U.  :  Klin.  Wschr.,  42,  407  (1964) . 
Meyer,  H.  J. :  Arch.  int.  Pharmacodyn.,  154, 449  (196oa) . 
Meter,  H.  J. :  Klin.  Wschr.,  43,  469  (1965b). 

Meyer,  H.  J. :  "Pharmakologie  der  Kawa-Droge-  Zugleich  ein  Beitrag  zum  Problem  des 

Kawa-Trinkens,"  HabUit,  Schrif t,  Freibui^  1966. 
Meyer,  H.  J.,  and  Keetzschmah,  R.  :  Klin.  Wschr.,  44,  902  (1966). 
Meyer,  H.  J.,  et  al. :  In  press. 

Simon,  I. :  Proc.  I.  int.  congr.  neuropharmacol.,  Elsevier  1959,  p.  414. 

Thomson,  B.  :  "The  Fijians.  A  Study  of  the  Decay  of  Custom,"  London  1908,  p.  213, 

TiTCOMB,  M. :  J.  Polynes,  Soc.,  57, 105  (1948). 

Van  Esveld,  L.  W.  :  Ned.  T.  Geneesk.,  Si,  3961  (1937) . 

Van  Veen,  A.  G. :  Geneesk.  T.  Nederl.  Ind.,  78, 1941  (1938) . 


Pharmacology  of  Kava' 

Joseph  P.  Buckley,  Angelo  R.  Furgiuele, 
AND  Maureen  J.  O'Hara 

Department  of  Pharmacology,  School  of  Pharmacy 
University  of  Pittsburgh,  Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania 

Piper  methysticum  Forst.  (Piperaceae)  is  a  perennial  shrub  indigenous 
to  many  islands  of  the  South  Pacific.  Roots  of  this  plant  have  been  used  by 
inhabitants  of  these  islands  to  prepare  a  beverage  known  as  Kava,  Kawa, 
or  Awa,  which  has  been  reported  to  allay  anxiety  and  reduce  fatigue  (i,  2) . 
The  pure  crystalline  alpha-pyrones,  isolated  from  the  roots  of  the  plant 
which  possess  sedative-type  activity,  are  soluble  in  the  usual  fat  solvents  but 
insoluble  in  water.  Three  of  these,  methysticin,  dihydromethysticin,  and 
dihydrokawain,  possess  sedative  activity  similar  to  that  of  the  whole  root 
{3^).  Since  Professor  Meyer  and  his  colleagues  have  worked  extensively 
on  the  pharmacology  of  these  water-insoluble  a-pyrones,  this  present  report 
will  be  concerned  primarily  with  the  pharmacological  activity  of  water- 
soluble  fractions  of  Kava. 


The  plant  material  used  was  obtained  from  S.  B.  Penick  Company,  New 
York,  New  York,  and  consisted  of  finely  pulverized  root  of  P.  methysticwn 

Steam  Extraction 

One  hundred  grams  of  the  finely  pulverized  root  was  mixed  with  approxi- 
mately 100  ml  of  distilled  water  giving  a  slurry  having  a  volume  of  ap- 
proximately 200  ml.  The  slurry  was  steam  distilled  and  the  first  100  ml  of 
distillate  collected,  filtered,  and  lyophilized.  The  yield  for  each  extraction 
was  approximately  50  mg  of  a  yellow- white  powder  designated  LE-1.  Wlien 
this  fraction  was  reconstituted  in  a  cencentration  of  10  mg/ml  in  distilled 
water,  some  of  the  material  was  insoluble  and  formed  a  fine  suspension. 
Since  preliminary  studies  on  the  spontaneous  activity  of  mice  indicated  that 
both  the  filtrate  and  suspension  possessed  depressant  activity,  the  following 
procedure  was  used  to  prepare  subfractions.  LE-1  was  suspended  in  distilled 
water  in  a  concentration  of  20  mg/ml,  shaken  for  3  minutes.  The  mixture  was 
then  filtered  through  Whatman  #1  filter  paper,  the  filtrate  shaken  with 
two  equivalent  volumes  of  chloroform,  the  remaining  aqueous  solution 
lyophilized,  and  the  resulting  amorphous  solid  labeled  Fj.  The  residue  from 
the  initial  filtration  was  washed  from  the  filter  paper  and  made  up  to  15  ml 

1  This  investigation  was  supported  by  a  P.H.S.  researcli  grant  MH-03029  from  tlie  National 
Institute  of  Mental  Health. 


with  distilled  water,  shaken  for  3  minutes,  and  filtered.  The  filtrate  was 
collected  and  the  remaining  minute  residue  discarded.  This  filtrate  was  also 
washed  with  two  equivalent  volumes  of  chloroform  and  the  resulting  aqueous 
solution  lyophilized  and  the  amorphous  solids  labeled  Fz. 

Pharmacological  Studies 

Spontaneom  and  Forced  Motor  Activity  Studies. — The  effects  of  LE-1, 
Fi,  and  Fj,  on  spontaneous  motor  activity  of  male  albino  Swiss-Webster 
mice  were  evaluated  in  photocell  activity  cages  as  described  by  Furgiuele  et 
al.  (7).  Fifty  to  60  minutes  after  receiving  an  intraperitoneal  injection  of 
one  of  the  fractions  or  saline,  1  hour  prior  to  testing.  Maximum  per- 
activity  cages  (Actophotometer,  Metro  Industries,  New  York)  and  a  15 
minute  count  taken  10  minutes  later.  Each  fraction  was  tested  at  4  dose  levels 
using  4  to  6  groups  of  5  mice  per  group.  The  effects  of  the  fractions  on 
forced  motor  activity  were  investigated  using  the  rotarod  (^,  9).  Each  group 
was  trained  to  walk  a  1.5  inch  diameter  hardwood  rod  rotating  at  15  rpm  or 
a  1  inch  diameter  rod  rotating  at  29  rpm  {10,  11).  The  mice  were  trained 
to  walk  the  rotating  rod  and  on  test  days  received  i.p.  injections  of  either 
one  of  the  fractions  or  saline,  1  hour  prior  to  testing.  Maximum  per- 
formance time  was  set  at  120  seconds  for  the  1  inch  rod  and  180  seconds 
for  the  11/2  inch  rod. 

Septal  Rats. — LE-1  was  investigated  for  possible  antagonism  of  the 
exaggerated  irritability  and  aggressiveness  of  rats  having  lesions  in  the 
septal  area  {12).  Three  to  four  days  following  production  of  the  lesions 
behavioral  abnormalities  were  scored  as  described  by  Schallek  et  al.  {13). 
This  involved  scoring  the  responses  obtained  by  (a)  a  puff  of  air  on  the 
back,  (b)  gently  touching  the  whiskers  with  a  probe,  (c)  gently  prodding 
the  animal's  back  with  a  probe,  and  (d)  approaching  the  rat  with  a  gloved 
hand.  Each  test  was  rated  on  a  scale  ranging  from  0  for  no  response  to  6 
for  the  most  violent  response.  Different  groups  of  5  rats  were  tested,  0.5,  1, 
and  2  hours  following  intraperitoneal  injection  of  fraction  LE-1.  Since 
chlordiazepoxide  has  also  been  reported  {12)  to  be  particularly  effective  in 
this  preparation,  it  was  compared  to  the  activity  of  LE-1.  The  ED50  was 
determined  graphically  using  the  method  of  Miller  and  Tainter  (-?^). 

Conditioned  Avoidance  Response. — The  rat  pole  climbing  procedure  of 
Cook  and  Weidley  {16)  was  modified  for  these  tests  {10).  Each  cycle  con- 
sisted of  15  seconds  of  tone  followed  by  a  maximum  of  30  seconds  of  shock, 
at  2.75  minute  intervals  and  the  number  of  times  the  animal  responded  to 
either  tone  or  shock  was  recorded.  Each  animal  was  subjected  to  2  to  3 
ten-cycle  training  sessions.  Trained  groups  of  6  male  albino  Wistar  rats 
received  i.p.  injections  of  either  LE-1,  50,  100,  and  200  mg/kg;  chlordia- 
zepoxide, 10,  20,  and  40  mg/kg;  or  saline,  0.1  ml,  one  hour  prior  to  a  10 
cycle  session.  The  number  of  times  that  the  rat  failed  to  respond  to  tone 
but  did  respond  to  shock  was  a  measure  of  the  inhibition  of  the  conditioned 


Electroencephalographic  Studies. — Cats  with  chronically  implanted  cor- 
tical and  subcortical  electrodes  were  ^prepared  as  described  by  Horovitz  and 
Chow  {16).  Bipolar  electrodes  were  implanted  into  the  amygdala  (AP=13, 
L=9,  H=5),  hippocampus  (AP=5,  L=12.5,  H=1.5),  and  pontine  reticular 
formation  (AP  =  35  mm  anterior  to  F=0,  L=0,  H=32  mm  at  an  angle 
of  25  degrees)  according  to  the  atlas  of  Jasper  and  Ajmone-Mai-san  {17) 
and  into  the  posterior  hypothalamus  (AP=9,  L=0.5,  H=2.5)  according  to 
the  atlas  of  Bleier  {IS).  Monopolar  electrodes  were  placed  over  appropriate 
cortical  areas,  5  to  10  mm  apart.  Simultaneous  recordings  were  obtained  from 
three  different  leads  onto  a  Grass  polygraph.  A  Grass  square-wave  stimulator 
was  used  to  stimulate  the  posterior  hypothalamus  or  brain  stem  reticular 
formation  for  a  period  of  15  seconds  with  pulses  of  100  c.p.s.  having  a  dura- 
tion of  5  msec  and  at  0.5  to  8.5  volts.  The  animals  were  placed  in  a  semi- 
soimdproof  constant  environment  chamber  fitted  with  a  one-way  glass  win- 
dow and  a  small  light.  The  animals  were  fed,  placed  into  individual  chambers, 
and  allowed  a  period  of  one  hour  to  acclimatize.  Control  recordings  were 
obtained  and  the  threshhold  for  EEG  arousal  determined  following  the 
electrical,  visual  (blinking  lights)  or  auditory  (clap)  stimulation.  A  desyn- 
chronization  of  the  resting  EEG  for  a  period  of  approximately  twice  the 
duration  of  the  stimulus  or  longer  was  taken  as  the  arousal  response.  The  pos- 
terior hypothalamus  of  two  cats  and  the  brain  stem  reticular  formation  of  two 
other  cats  were  stimulated  and  cortical  and  subcortical  activity  recorded. 
After  control  recordings,  the  cats  were  removed  from  the  chambers,  and  an 
aqueous  solution  of  either  LE-1  or  clilordiazepoxide  administered  intraperi- 
toneally.  The  ejffects  on  spontaneous  EEG  activity  and  upon  arousal  were 
observed  30,  60,  120,  and  180  minutes  following  administration.  An  interval 
of  at  least  5  days  was  permitted  between  injections  to  insure  recovery  of 
the  test  animals.  At  the  termination  of  the  study,  the  animals  were  sacrificed, 
the  brains  perfused  with  10%  formalin  and  location  of  the  electrodes  verified. 

Antiserotonin  Activity . — A  rat  uterine  horn  obtained  from  virgin  rats 
(Wistar)  in  the  estrus  stage,  as  determined  by  microscopic  examination  of 
vaginal  smears,  was  suspended  in  a  10  ml  tissue  bath  containing  modified 
deJ alon's  solution  ( 19) ,  containing  calcium  chloride,  20  mg/1,  and  oxygenated 
with  95%  O2  and  5%  CO2  at  a  temperature  of  37.5°.  Uterine  contractions 
were  recorded  on  a  smoked  kymograph  drum  via  a  muscle  lever  so  that 
the  magnification  was  approximately  3X.  All  test  substances  were  added 
in  volumes  not  exceeding  0.15  ml  and  the  a-pyrones  investigated  were  admin- 
istered in  a  suspension  of  1%  methylcellulose,  1500  cps.  Maximal  contrac- 
tion of  the  uterine  horn  was  induced  by  serotonin  creatinine  sulfate,  0.5  to 
1.0  mcg/10  ml  bathing  solution.  The  dose  producing  maximal  contraction 
was  added  to  the  bath  every  fourth  minute;  following  the  contraction  the 
tissue  was  washed  Avith  fresh  deJalon's  solution.  After  two  equivalent  re- 
sponses to  serotonin  were  obtained,  a  given  quantity  of  one  of  the  a-pyrones  or 
subfraction  Fi  or  F2  was  added  to  the  bath,  30  seconds  prior  to  the  next 
dose  of  serotonin.  Additional  doses  of  the  antagonists  were  not  added  until 
the  serotonin  response  had  returned  to  normal.  Equivalent  volumes  of  1% 
methylcellulose  did  not  affect  the  response  of  the  uterine  horn  to  serotonin. 


Effects  on  Brain  Serotonin  Content. — Dihydromethysticin,  100  mg/kg, 
Fi,  100  mg/kg,  F2,  100  mg/kg,  chlordiazepoxide,  5  mg/kg,  and  reserpine 
phosphate,  1.25  mg/kg  were  each  administered  to  5  mice.  The  animals  were 
sacrificed  one  hour  following  i.p.  administration  by  stunning  and  exsangui- 
nation.  The  brains  were  removed  intact,  weighed,  and  transferred  to  a 
glass  homogenization  tube  containing  sufficient  0.1  N  HCl  to  make  a  total 
volume  of  3.0  ml.  The  tissue  was  homogenized  with  a  motor  driven  teflon 
homogenizer  and  the  homogenate  rinsed  with  7.0  ml  of  glass  distilled  water 
and  transferred  to  a  30  ml  centrifuge  tube  containing  3.0  ml  of  borate 
buffer.  Serotonin  was  extracted  using  the  method  of  Bogdanski  et  al.  {20) 
as  modified  by  Aprison  et  al.  {21)  and  serotonin  concentration  determined 
with  a  Turner  fluorometer  {22). 


PhysicciL-Ghemical  Characteristics  of  Subfractions  Fi  and  F2. — Subfrac- 
tion  Fi  was  found  to  be  16  times  more  soluble  in  water  than  F2.  The  physical- 
chemical  characteristics  and  average  yield  of  Fi  and  F2  are  summarized  in 
Table  1.  Nitrogen  could  not  be  detected  in  either  fraction  and  aldehydes 
and/or  ketones  were  detected  in  F2  only. 

Table  1. — Some  -physical  and  chemical  characteristics  of  subfractions  Ft  and  Ft  from  the 

lyophilized  steam  distillate  of  Kava 




Physical  state 

Amorphous  solid 

Amorphous  solid 



Yellowish  white 




Sodium  Fusion 

Nitrogen  absent 

Nitrogen  absent 


Burned  with  a  sooty  flame, 

Burned  with  a  sooty  flame, 

small  residue 

no  residue 


8  mg/ml 

0.5  mg/ml 

Av.  yield 

60  mg/200  mg  LE-1 

18  mg/200  mg  LE-1 

2, 4-Dinitrophenylhy- 

No  dinitrophenylhydra- 

Red  needle  shaped  crystals 


zone  formed 

of  insoluble  dinitrophenyl- 

hydrazone  formed 

Sfontaneous  and  Forced  Motor  Activity. — The  effects  of  the  aqueous 
fractions  from  Kava  on  spontaneous  motor  activity  of  mice  are  sum- 
marized in  Table  2.  LE-1,  Fi,  and  F2  depressed  spontaneous  motor  activity 
in  a  dose-related  manner.  The  estimated  ED50  for  Fi  being  31.6  mg/kg 
and  F2  6.4  mg/kg.  Loss  of  righting  reflex  was  not  observed  even  at  those  doses 
which  almost  completely  abolished  spontaneous  motor  activity.  Doses  of  the 
fractions  showing  marked  inhibition  of  spontaneous  motor  activity  did  not 
alter  the  forced  motor  activity  of  mice  placed  on  the  rotarod. 

Septal  Rats. — The  effects  of  LE-1  and  clilordiazepoxide  on  the  hyper- 
irritability  of  septal  rats  are  summarized  in  Table  3.  LE-1  was  approxi- 


Table  2. — Effects  of  lyophilized  aqueous  kava  on  spontaneous  motor  activity  of  mice 


I. P.  Dose 

l-J  i  5     0  ^  1  "1  4-  Q  f  Y"fl 

JT  crCcll  UdgC 









1  OA 

































»  Number  of  groups,  5  mice/group. 

mately  one-tenth  as  effective  as  chlordiazepoxide  in  reducing  the  hyper- 
irritability  of  these  animals ;  however,  even  the  50  mg/kg  dose  significantly 
affected  the  experimental  animals  and  ataxia  was  not  observed  in  those 
animals  receiving  doses  as  high  as  200  mg/kg  of  LE-1  whereas  moderate  to 
marked  ataxia  occurred  at  the  20  and  40  mg/kg  doses  of  chlordiazepoxide. 

Conditioned  Avoidance  Response. — LE-1  in  doses  ranging  from  50  to  400 
mg/kg  i.p.  produced  a  significant  inhibition  of  the  CAR  which  was  dose  de- 
pendent. The  ED50  for  LE-1  was  82  mg/kg  and  for  chlordiazepoxide  21  mg/ 
kg.  (see  table  4) .  LE-1  did  not  inhibit  the  shock  response  whereas  chlordiaz- 
epoxide, 40  mg/kg,  did  produce  a  significant  reduction  in  shock  responses. 

Electroencephalographic  Studies. — The  effects  of  LE-1  on  the  duration 
of  the  arousal  response  after  threshold  stimulus  are  summarized  in  Table  5. 

Table  3. — Effects  of  LE-1  and  chlordiazepoxde  on  the  rage  score  of  septal  rats 


Dose  (mg/kg, 

Mean  Score  ±  S.E. 

ED  JO  ±  percent 
S.E.  (mg/kg) 


























»  N,  number  of  rats  tested. 
Significantly  different  from  controls  (p<0.05). 


Table  4. — Effects  of  LE-1  and  chlordiazepoxide  on  the  rat  conditioned  avoidance  response 




ICR  60  ± 




percent  S.E. 

of  CAR 











•>  65 




b  70 







b  26 



b  37 

21  ±14 







»  N,  number  of  rats  tested. 

^  Significantly  different  from  controls  (p<0.05). 

Table  5. — Effects  of  LE-1  on  duration  of  arousal  following  threshold  stimulation  in  cats 

Duration  of  Aroi  sal,  Seconds 









0  hr  » 

0.5  hr 

1  hr 

2  hr 

3  hr 



Ret.  Form. 

P.  Sigmoid 





A.  Suprasyl. 





P.  Hypothal. 







P.  Hypothal. 

P.  Sigmoid 





A.  Suprasyl. 












P.  Hypothal. 

A.  Sigmoid 





P.  Sigmoid 












Ret.  Form 

P.  Sigmoid 






A.  Suprasyl. 






P.  Hypothal. 








Ret.  Form. 

P.  Sigmoid 






A.  Suprasyl. 






P.  Hypothal. 








Ret.  Form. 

P.  Sigmoid 






A.  Suprasyl. 






P.  Hypothal. 








P.  Hypothal. 

A.  Sigmoid 






P.  Sigmoid 












*  Predrug. 

b  Recovery  in  4  hours. 
"  Unable  to  record. 


The  lowest  dose  of  LE-1  shortened  the  duration  of  the  arousal  response  for 
approximately  one  hour.  Although  this  effect  was  observed  in  recordings 
from  both  cortical  and  subcortical  sites,  no  significant  changes  in  the  EEG 
activity  were  evident.  The  larger  doses  of  100  and  150  mg/kg  effectively 
blocked  EEG  arousal  and  caused  a  slowing  of  spontaneous  cortical  and  sub- 
cortical activity.  Mild  to  marked  ataxia  occurred  following  the  100  and  150 
mg/kg  doses,  respectively.  The  duration  of  the  arousal  response  after  audi- 
tory stimulation  was  unaffected  at  the  50  mg/kg  dose  and  shortened  after 
100  mg/kg  and  completely  abolished  following  the  150  mg/kg  dose  of  LE-1. 
The  EEG  arousal  induced  by  visual  stimulation  was  unaffected  at  the  50  mg/ 
kg  dose,  shortened  somewhat  following  100  mg/kg,  and  blocked  for  more 
than  2  hours  following  the  150  mg/kg  administration  of  LE-1.  Moderate 
ataxia  was  observed  in  those  cats  receiving  150  mg/kg  and  was  still  evident 
12  to  14  hours  after  drug  administration. 

Chlordiazepoxide  effectively  reduced  cortical  and  subcortical  arousal  in 
doses  ranging  from  5  to  15  mg/  kg,  i.p.  In  two  cats,  chlordiazepoxide  induced 
a  period  of  excitation  of  sufficient  intensity  that  recording  was  prevented. 

Antiserotonin  Activity. — Desmethoxy-yangonin,  dihydromethysticin,  ka- 
wain,  and  Fa  antagonized  the  serotonin  induced  contractions  of  the  isolated 
rat  uterus  whereas  Fi  did  not  alter  the  serotonin  activity  in  doses  ranging 
from  100  to  400  mcg/10  ml  bath  (Fig.  1).  The  ED50  (dose  per  10  ml  bathing 

IOO;ig  5q;jg  25>jg 

Fig.  1. — Kymograph  tracings  showing  the  effects  of  (a)  desmethoxy-yangonin  (DMY), 
(b)  Kawain  (K)  and  (c)  F,  and  Fj  on  serotonin  induced  contractions  of  the  isolated 
rat  uterus  (from  O'Hara,  M.  J.,  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  and  Buckley,  J.  P.,  J.  Pharm.  Sci. 
54,  1021,  (1965). 


fluid  inhibiting  serotonin  response  by  50%)  for  desmethoxy-yangonin  was  32 
meg,  kawain  100  meg,  dihydromethysticin  75  meg,  and  F2  225  meg.  This 
antagonism  of  the  a-pyrones  to  the  serotonin  induced  contraction  of  the 
isolated  rat  uterus  appears  to  be  specific  since  dihydromethysticin  failed  to 
alter  the  contraction  induced  by  either  bradykinin  or  acetylcholine  (see  Table 
6  and  Fig.  2) . 

Table  6. — Responses  of  an  isolated  rat  uterus  to  dihydromethysticin  showing  specificity  of 

antagonism  to  serotonin 






(meg/ 10  ml) 

(mcg/10  ml) 

(ng^/10  ml) 

(mcg/10  ml) 


1.  0 

0.  0 



4  5 

1.  0 

0.  0 



1.  4 

0.  0 

5.  0 



7.  2 

0.  0 

5.  0 



7.  2 

0.  0 

0.  0 



7.  8 

0.  0 

0.  0 



7.  8 

"  ng.,  nanogram. 

Fig.  2. — Kymograph  tracings  showing  the  effects  of  dihydromethysticin  (DHM)  on  (a) 
serotonin,  and  (b)  bradykinin  (br)  and  acetylcholine  (ac)  induced  contraction  of  the 
isolated  rat  uterus  (from  O'Haj-a,  M.  J.,  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  and  Buckley,  J.  P.,  J.  Pharm. 
Sci.  54,  1021,  (1965). 

Brain  Serotonin. — Brain  levels  of  endogenous  serotonin  were  not  altered 
1  hour  after  the  i.p.  administration  of  dihydromethysticin,  Fi,  F2  and  chlor- 
diazepoxide.  Reserpine  reduced  brain  serotonium  levels  by  27%. 



LE-1,  a  lyophilized  steam  distillate  of  PJ,per  methysticum  Forst.,  and  the 
two  water  soluble  apparently  distinctive  subfractions  of  the  distillate  pro- 
duced marked  depression  of  spontaneous  motor  activity  of  mice  without 
altering  the  rotarod  performance.  Chromatographic  data  indicated  that  the 
pharmacological  actions  of  this  fraction  were  due  to  substances  other  than 
the  known  a-pyrones  {10) .  LE-1  reduced  the  behavior  abnormalities  of  septal 
rats  in  a  manner  similar  to  that  of  chlordiazepoxide  in  doses  which  exerted  a 
specific  blockade  of  the  conditioned  avoidance  response.  King  and  Meyer 
{23)  have  postulated  that  in  the  rat  the  septal  area  normally  acts  to  dampen 
hypothalamic  Output,  associated  with  an  emotional  state,  whereas  the  amyg- 
dala may  facilitate  this  hypothalamic  activity.  Destruction  of  the  septal 
areas  should  remove  its  restraining  influence  and  result  in  a  hyperirritable 
animal.  Schallek  et  al.  {13)  theorized  that  the  reduced  activity  in  the  amyg- 
dala is  related  to  the  psychodepressant  effects  of  chlordiazepoxide. 

LE-1  caused  moderate  slowing  of  cortical,  hypothalamic,  and  hippo- 
campal  activity  with  concomitant  ataxia  and  motor  deficiency.  After  cortical 
activity  had  returned  to  pretreatment  levels,  subcortical  (hypothalamic  and 
hippocampal)  activity  was  still  reduced,  evidenced  by  the  absence  of  EEG 
arousal.  Although  return  of  the  arousal  pattern  generally  marked  the  end 
of  an  experiment,  ataxia  and  uncoordinated  movements  were  still  present, 
an  indication  that  LE-1  was  exerting  a  skeletal  muscle  relaxant  effect.  Ataxia 
was  one  of  the  most  consistent  responses  obtained  with  LE-1  in  mice  and  rats 
(with  the  exception  of  septal  rats)  also  suggesting  skeletal  muscle  relaxant 
activity.  A  single  intravenous  dose  of  20  mg/kg  of  LE-1  completely  blocked 
the  flexor  reflex  for  approximately  3  hours  in  two  cats.  It  appears  that  at 
least  part  of  the  altered  behavioral  effects  observed  in  mice  and  rats  as  well 
as  cats  could  be  due  to  blockade  of  the  spinal  interneurons,  with  progressive 
weaker  depressant  effects  on  the  reticular  formation,  subcortex,  and  cortex 
respectively.  Certain  of  the  a-pyrones  exhibited  a  dose-related  antagonism  of 
the  serotonin-induced  contraction  of  the  rat  uterus  and  exhibited  potency 
comparable  to  N-(/3-dimethylaminoethyl)  cinnamamide  (^^).  The  a-pyrones 
isolated  from  Kava  possessing  this  antiserotonin  activity  have  a  cinnamoyl 
moiety  which  may  be  responsible  for  this  particular  pharmacological  action. 
Antiserotonin  studies  further  substantiated  the  difference  in  activity  between 
Fi  and  F2  in  that  Fi  did  not  affect  the  serotonin  response  whereas  F2  was 
antagonistic  to  it.  Subfraction  Fj  was  a  much  weaker  depressant  on  a  weight- 
weight  basis  than  subfraction  F2.  Since  thin-layer  chromatograms  demon- 
strated that  Fi  is  absolutely  free  of. known  a-pyrones  (Fig.  3)  and  since  the 
overall  pharmacological  profile  may  be  quite  different  than  that  of  F2,  studies 
are  currently  being  undertaken  to  isolate  the  pharmacologically  active  con- 
stituents in  this  more  water  soluble  subfraction. 



100  pg 

100  yg 

Fig.  3. — Thin  layer  chromatogram  of  certain  aqueous  fractions  of  Kava  (from  O'Hara, 
M.  J.,  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  and  Buckley,  J.  P.  J.  Pharm.  Sci.  54,  1021,  (1965). 


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(2)  Van  Veen,  A.  G.,  Rec.  Trav.  Chim.  58,  521  (1939). 

(3)  Van  Veen,  A.  G.,  Tijdsehr.  Nederland  India  78,  1941  (1938). 

(//)  Klohs,  M.  W.,  Keller,  F.,  Williams,  R.  E.,  Tokes,  M.  I.,  and  Cronheim,  G.  E., 
J.  Med.  Pharm.  Chem.  1,  95  (1959) . 

(5)  Meyer,  H.  J.,  Arch.  Int.  Pharmacodyn,  116,  45  (1958). 

(6)  Keller,  F.  and  Klohs,  M.  W.,  Lloydia  26, 1  (1963) . 

(7)  Furgiuele,  a.  R.,  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  and  Buckley,  J.  P.,  J.  Pharmacol.  Exp.  Therap. 

137,356  (1962). 

(8)  Kinnard,  W.  J.  and  Carr,  C.  J.,  J.  Pharmacol.  Exp.  Therap.  121,  354  (1957). 

(9)  Watzman,  N.,  Barry,  H.,  Buckley,  J.  P.,  and  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  J.  Pharm,  Sci.  53, 

1429  (1964). 

{10)  Furgiuele,  A.  R.,  Kinnard,  W.  J.,  Aoeto,  M.  D.,  and  Bucklet,  J.  P.,  J.  Pharm.  Sci. 
54,247  (1965). 


(11)  O'Haea,  M.  J.,  KiNNARD,  W.  J.  and  Buckley,  J.  P.,  J.  Pharm.  Sci.  54,  1021  (1965). 

(12)  Randall,  L.  O.,  Schallek,  W.,  Heise,  G.  A.,  Keith,  E.  F.,  and  Bagdon,  R.  E.,  J. 

Pharmacol.  Exp.  Therap.  129, 163  (1960). 

(13)  Schallek,  W.,  Kuehn,  D.,  and  Jew,  N.,  Ann.  N.Y.  Acad.  Sci.  96,  303  (1962). 
(J4)  Miller,  C.  L.  and  Tainter,  M.  L.,  Proc.  Soc.  Exp.  Biol.  Med.  57,  261  (1944). 

(15)  Cook,  L.  and  Weidley,  E.,  Ann.  N.Y.  Acad.  Sci.  66,  740  (1957). 

(16)  HoROviTZ,  Z.  P.  and  Chow,  M.,  J.  Pharm.  Sci.  52,  198  (1963). 

(17)  Jasper,  H.  H.  and  Ajmone-Marsan,  C,  "A  Stereotaxic  Atlas  of  the  Diencephalon 

of  the  Cat",  The  National  Research  Council  of  Canada  (1960). 

(18)  Bleter,  R.,  "The  Hypothalmus  of  the  Cat",  The  Johns  Hopkins  Press,  Baltimore 


(19)  Burn,  J.  A.,  "Practical  Pharmacology",  Blackwell  Scientific  Publications,  Oxford, 

England,  p.  13  (1952). 

(20)  BoGDANSKi,  D.  F.,  Pletscher,  a.,  Brodie,  B.  B.,  and  Udenfriend,  S.,  J.  Pharmacol. 

Exp.  Therap.  117,  82  (1956) . 

(21)  Aprison,  M.  H.,  Wolf,  M.  A.,  Poulos,  G.  L.,  and  Folkerth,  T.  L.,  J.  Neurochem.  9, 

575  (1962). 

(22)  Udenfriend,  S.,  Weissbach,  H.,  and  Brodie,  B.  B.,  "Methods  of  Biochemical  An- 

alyses", D.  Click  (ed.).  Academic  Press,  Inc.,  New  York,  N.Y.  p.  105  (1958). 

(23)  King,  F.  A.  and  Meyer,  P.  M.,  Science  128,  655  (1958) . 

(24)  DoMBRO,  R.  S.  and  Woolley,  D.  W.,  Biochem.  Pharmacol.  13,  569  (1964). 


Electropharmacological  and 
Behavioral  Actions  of  Kava 

Amedeo  S.  Marrazzi 

Department  of  Pharmacology,  University  of  Minnesota  Medical  School, 
Minneapolis,  Minnesota 

This  compound  in  interesting  for  its  consistencies,  and  I  also  want  to 
make  a  point  illustrating  a  concept  of  a  potential  mechanism  of  tranquilizer 
action.  We  first  got  interested  in  1959,  because  of  the  descriptions  and  because 
of  the  confirmation  of  these  descriptions  by  Dr.  Franck  of  the  American 
Medical  Association  Editorial  Staff. 

I  simply  wanted  to  show  you  two  slides,  and  I  need  to  show  you  two 
older  slides  for  reference.  (Fig.  1 ) 


100  cps 

Fig.  1 

In  the  first  of  these  slides  showing  evoked  cortical  potentials  in  a  cat, 
you  see  that  a  tranquilizer,  in  this  case  chlorpromazine  (CPZ),  prevents 
(2nd  column)  the  cerebral  synaptic  inhibitory  effect  of  LSD  (1st  column). 
It  controls  LSD.  After  the  chlorpromazine  has  been  dissipated,  there  is 
recovery  (3rd  column)  and  LSD  again  produces  its  cerebral  action.  This 
is  one  of  the  typical  actions  of  a  psychotogen,  and  we  think  that  tran- 
quilizers have  a  similar  but  weaker  action.  The  data  actually  then  lend  them- 
selves to  the  notion — and  we  have  further  data  supporting  it — that  they 
have  the  same  kind  of  action  as  the  psychotogens,  illustrated  by  LSD,  but 
weaker,  and  therefore  are  able  to  compete  for  the  same  receptor. 

It  seemed  interesting  to  see  what  Kava  would  do  under  similar  circum- 
stances. A  preliminary  water  extract  proved  quite  potent,  and  three-tenths 
of  a  cc  given  intracarotidly,  elicited  an  affect  very  similar  to  that  of 
LSD.  {Fig.  2) 



100 '\; 

Fig.  2 

Obviously  we  are  interested  in  the  relation  of  an  electrical  effect  in  anes- 
thetized animals  to  the  behavior  that  the  nervous  system  controls.  Fig.  3  is 
interesting  in  this  connection. 

This  happens  to  be  a  rat  conditioned  approach  experiment,  in  which  the 
response  latency  to  the  signal  tone  is  indicated  by  the  length  of  the  upright 
lines.  The  effect  of  LSD  is  a  prolongation  of  the  response  time.  This  would 
be  expected  from  the  synaptic  inhibitory  action.  Inhibition  of  inhibition, 
i.e.  disinhibition  or  a  release  phenomenon,  occurs  at  smaller  doses  but  is 
here  masked  by  the  over-riding  over- all  inhibition.  I  Avon't  go  into  the 
chlorpromazine  protection  at  the  moment. 

This  {Fig.  4)  is  the  same  kind  of  an  experiment  with  Kava.  There  is  a 
great  prolongation  in  the  response  time.  The  sharp  cut-off  at  the  top  is 
simply  because  the  equipment  turns  off  after  twenty  seconds  without  a 

It  then  seems  interesting,  in  the  first  place,  that  this  material  is  quite  active, 
because  that  amount  of  synaptic  inhibition  is  the  equivalent  of  forty  micro- 
grams of  serotonin. 





TIME  0 




0.030  mg/ko 

n   Ji,)k,ii,JnlH4u-^ 

 ,11  III  .ll 

I't  1 11  -  '■  lH  liJ  ' 

IM,  li 

>j-ULJ4-i-a-Mt  III-  1 






Rfl  wards 





0.10  mg/kg 

llllillllli.l..l|H,.l..,l..l„l..l.„l  I,, 

0.030  mg/kj- 

10  30  40 


CPZ  LSD-25 

0.10  mg/kg 

Fig.  3 

262-016  0-67—12 


Fig.  4 

In  the  second  place,  it  acts  like  LSD  on  synaptic  transmission  and 
behaviorally,  and  you  heard  rather  an  extensive  follow-up  from  Dr.  Buckley 
and  related  data  from  Dr.  Meyer. 

The  point  that  I  was  trying  to  bring  out  is  the  possibility  that  a  tran- 
quilizer is,  in  fact,  a  weak  psychotogen,  and  this  has  very  definite  implica- 
tions for  the  method  of  looking  for  new  tranquilizers.  Thank  you. 


Effect  of  Kava  in  Normal  Subjects 
and  Patients 

Carl  C.  Pfeiffer,  Henry  B.  Murphree  and  Leonide  Goldstein 

Section  on  Neuropharmacology 

New  Jersey  Institute,  Princeton,  New  Jersey 

Those  of  you  who  watched  the  television  news  last  October  saw  that  the 
Samoans  oflFered  cups  of  Kava  to  President  and  Mrs.  Johnson.  The  New 
York  Times  (10-19-65)  reported  the  incident  as  follows:  (1) 

Mrs.  Lyndon  B.  Johnson  is  the  first  woman  ever  offered  the  royal  Kava  drink,  the 
highest  honor  Samoan  chiefs  can  bestow  on  a  visitor.  She  drank  it,  too. 

Samoans  who  turned  out  from  every  comer  of  the  island  to  welcome  the  Johnsons 
yesterday  applauded  delightedly  as  the  First  Lady  sipped  the  bitter  juice  from  a  coco- 
nut cup.  The  President  only  touched  his  lips  to  the  cup. 

Later  Mrs.  Johnson  said  the  drink  tasted  a  little  like  the  milk  of  coconuts — watered 
down — with  a  slightly  medicinal  taste. 

Drinking  the  brew,  made  from  the  pulverized  root  of  the  Kava  tree,  bound  Mrs. 
Johnson  in  fellowship  with  the  chiefs.  Both  she  'and  her  husband  also  made  the  tradi- 
tional gesture  of  pouring  a  bit  of  the  juice  on  the  ground  to  get  rid  of  evil  spirits. 

Subsequently  President  Johnson,  the  abstainer,  needed  two  surgical  opera- 
tions while  Mrs.  Johnson's  health  has  remained  excellent !  What  is  in  this 
obviously  marvelous  brew  made  from  the  root  of  the  Kava  tree?  This  con- 
ference allows  us  to  review  data  on  Kava  gathered  in  animals  and  man  over 
the  period  1954^1962.  The  data  vary  in  their  accuracy  from  global  clinical 
impressions  to  objective  double  blind  studies  using  quantitative  amplitude 
analysis  of  the  EEG. 

In  1954  we  made  various  extracts  of  the  powdered  Kava  root  and  obtained 
brown  gums  which,  while  insoluble  in  water,  could  be  easily  suspended  in  gum 
tragacanth.  The  alcohol  extracted  gum  appeared  to  be  the  most  active  in  mice, 
particularly  against  strychnine  convulsions. 

One  of  the  active  ingredients,  dihydrokawain,  was  compared  to  mephenesin 
and  found  to  be  effective  but  very  fleeting  in  its  anti-strychnine  effect  (2,  3) 
Table  2.  The  testing  in  mice  was  perforce  done  in  the  first  30  minutes  after 
oral  dosing  in  order  to  see  the  characteristic  anti-strychnine  effect.  The  very 
short  acting  drug  mephenesin  had  a  comparable  effect  to  that  of  dihydro- 

Our  interest  next  turned  to  the  two  compounds  which  the  Eiker  Labora- 
tory Scientists  found  to  be  very  active  in  their  animal  tests  {Ji).  These  were 
dl-methysticin  and  dl-ethysticin.  The  methyl  congener  occurs  in  Kava  while 
the  ethyl  congener  was  prepared  synthetically.  Both  compounds  are  optically 
active  so  that  synthesis  provides  the  racemate  while  the  natural  compound  is 
an  optically  active  enantiomer. 

We  studied  in  two  groups  of  six  normal  subjects  at  the  Atlanta  Federal 
Penitentiary  both  dl-ethysticin  and  dl-methysticin  in  single  oral  doses  of 


Table  1. — Anticonvulsant  effect  of  Kava  Kava  in  mice 

[All  tests  at  1  hour  after  oral  dose] 

Metrazol  ratio 

Stryehnine  ratio 




%  Surv. 

Crude  Root 

2.  0  gm 

*1.  6 

*1.  6 

2.  1 


Hot  Ale  Extr. 

150  mg 

1.  4 

1.  2 

1.  7 


CH  CI3  Ext. 

150  mg 

1.  2 

1.  1 

1.  8 


Ale.  Extr. 

150  mg 

1.  5 

1.  2 

2.  2 


Control  Mice 

1.  0 

1.  0 

1.  0 


FT=first  twitch. 
PC=persistent  convulsion. 
N  =  14  mice/group. 

*Read  1.6  times  the  control  group  of  mice. 

800  mgm.  This  dose  was  chosen  because  therapeutic  trials  in  epileptics  showed 
some  degree  of  seizure  control.  No  significant  changes  in  blood  pressure,  pulse 
rate,  grip  strength,  hand  steadiness,  or  pupil  size  occurred.  The  subjective 
responses  were  equally  divided  between  stimulant,  placebo  and  sedative  re- 
ports. We  conclude  that  these  two  congeners  were  not  sufficiently  active  to 
be  recognized  by  our  crew  of  drug  sophisticated  tasters. 

When  the  crude  root  was  given  to  9  selected,  uncontrolled  epileptics  (6) 
in  doses  up  to  6  grams  per  day  a  better  degree  of  seizure  control  was  obtained. 
The  same  degree  of  control  was  provided  by  an  alcoholic  extract  of  the  root 
in  a  dose  of  1.0  gm/day.  However,  continued  therapy  for  several  weeks  pro- 
duced a  lemon  tinted  skin  and  sclera  which  was  apparently  owing  to  a  chemi- 
cal pigment  and  is  seen  characteristically  in  the  Samoans  who  take  Kava 
regularly.  Because  of  this  skin  reaction  the  use  of  root  and  extract  was  dis- 
continued in  favor  of  the  study  of  the  pure,  more  active  and  uncolored  prin- 
ciples of  the  root. 

Table  2. — Anticonvulsant  effect  of  dihydrokawain 





































Min.  Atax.  Does=250  mg/kg. 

F.T.=first  twitch. 

P.C. = persistent  convulsion. 

•Read  1.6  times  the  control  group  of  mice.  12  mice/group. 


Of  the  available  congeners  dl-dihydromethysticin  is  the  most  active  in 
animals.  This  compound  became  available  for  clinical  trial  in  1956  as  Eiker 
Laboratories  #532,  and  was  used  in  doses  up  to  1200  mgm/day  to  control 
epileptic  seizures.  The  anti-epileptic  effect  was  characterized  by  fewer 
grand  mal  seizures  but  no  change  in  petit  mal  seizure  activity.  However, 
after  one  month  of  continuous  therapy  some  patients  showed  conjunctival 
and  circimaorbital  erythema,  vomiting  and  diarrhea.  These  symptoms  were 
considered  to  be  drug  induced  so  that  dl-dihydromethysticin  was  discon- 

Saunders  and  Kline  (6)  treated  schizophrenics  with  this  drug  using 
doses  of  800  mgm/day.  After  3  months,  14  or  15  patients  developed  typical 
drug  induced  skin  rashes  of  the  groin  and  axillae.  The  reaction  disappeared 
10  to  20  days  after  the  drug  was  stopped,  but  reappeared  when  the  drug  was 
again  given  to  selected  patients.  The  drug  had  no  antipsychotic  effect  in  the 
schizophrenic  patients. 

EFG  Studies  in  Normal  Vohmteers 

The  quantitative  EEG  technique  provides  an  accurate  method  to  measure 
GNS  stimulation,  sedation  or  sleep.  Quantitation  of  the  EEG  was  performed 
with  an  electronic  integrator.  This  device,  the  operation  of  which  has  been 
fully  described  elsewhere  (7),  transforms  the  complex  EEG  signals  into 
pulses  inscribed  directly  and  concomitantly  with  the  direct  tracings.  The 
number  of  pulses,  for  any  given  time  period,  is  directly  proportional  to  the 
cumulated  electrical  energy.  Calibration  is  by  the  application  of  known 
energy  constants.  The  values  obtained  therefore  can  be  related  to  fixed  stand- 
ards. The  basic  time-unit  chosen  for  data  analysis  was  20  seconds,  that  is,  2 
pages  of  standard  EEG  recording.  Thus  any  10-minute  recording  run  yielded 
30  successive  measurements. 

All  the  corresponding  values  from  each  predrug  and  postdrug  run,  as 
obtained  from  all  the  subjects  involved  in  each  particular  study,  were  aver- 
aged, and  mean  energy  contents  (MEC)  for  the  group  were  thus  determined. 
The  statistical  significance  of  the  changes  was  ascertained  with  the  t-test. 

Besides  these  measurements  of  the  level  of  electrical  energy,  a  careful 
analysis  of  variability  was  performed  for  each  time  period.  We  find  that  this 
parameter  of  quantitated  EEG  data  is  highly  informative,  not  only  for  the 
detection  and  characterization  of  drug  effects,  but  also  for  baseline  features. 
For  example,  we  have  found  that  male  schizophrenic  patients  have  much 
less  EEG  variability  than  nonpsychotics.  In  the  Tables,  the  values  of  the 
standard  deviation  are  computed  from  the  "between  subjects,  within  drug" 
covariance  values.  Statistical  significance  of  the  differences  in  variability  was 
based  on  F-ratios.  For  convenience,  the  covariance  levels  are  expressed  as 
the  coefficient  of  variation  (CV).  Table  3  summarizes  our  objective  findings 
using  this  technique. 

The  subjective  reaction  of  these  normal  subjects  was  that  the  Kava 
principles  produced  mild  sedation  or  sleepiness.  This  would  be  in  accord 
with  the  quantitative  EEG  findings  of  the  most  effective  congener,  namely 


Table  3. — Quantitative  eledroencephalographic  studies  in  normal  volunteers  given  Kava 

type  chemicals 






Hours  following  admin. 
















yj  V 










1  n 








O  V 









1  fin 

1  n 

1  no 



















































•Significant  at  tlie  1  in  20  level  of  confidence. 

160  mgm  of  d-dihydromethysticin.  This  is  evident  in  the  increase  in  the 
coefficient  of  variation  at  the  4,  6  and  6th  hours  after  the  oral  dose. 

Computer  analysis  of  the  EEG  after  160  mg  of  dl-dihydromethysticin 
revealed  that  there  were  significant  increases  in  total  electrical  energy  with- 
out significant  increases  in  variability.  These  increases  affected  all  frequen- 
cies and  were  maximal  two  to  three  hours  after  dosage.  The  increases  were 
more  evident  in  low-alpha  records.  When  very  prominent  alpha  was  present, 
little  or  no  change  occurred  in  total  energy  or  in  energy  in  the  alpha  band, 
but  significant  increases  occurred  in  the  low  frequency  portion  of  the  elec- 
troencephalographic  spectrum,  again  without  any  significant  change  in  varia- 


We  have  found  that  dihydrokawain  is  very  similar  to  mephenesin  in  its 
effect  on  the  strychnine  thresholds  of  mice.  Meyer  (8)  and  Meyer  and 
Kretzschmar  (9)  find  a  close  similarity  in  the  pharmacological  action  of  the 
Kavapyrones  and  mephenesin  when  tested  on  the  reflexes  of  guinea  pigs. 
The  chemical  structures  are  similar  in  that  both  can  be  described  as  blocking 
compounds  of  simple  oxygen  functions. 

If  more  were  known  about  the  physiological  deposition  of  the  Kava- 
pyrones a  second  analogy  might  be  made  to  the  diketone  griseofvlvin  which 
is  also  a  mild  CNS  sedative,  and  is  known  to  exert  its  antifungal  effect  by 
deposition  in  the  skin,  hair,  and  nails.  This  fungicide  however  is  well  toler- 
ated by  the  human  skin  while  the  Kava-pyrones  are  not.  If  Samoan  groups 
can  be  found  who  imbibe  Kava  only  during  a  ceremonial  week  one  would 
expect  to  find  some  degree  of  yellow  banding  of  their  finger  and  toe  nails 
if  the  Kava-pyrones  are  deposited  in  keratin. 



OH  OH  /=\  P-C^ 
/      ^O-CHg-CH-CHg  )>CH2-CH2 

^  '  ^  '  '  'OCH. 

Mephenesin  Dihydrokawain 




Fig.  1. — The  Kava  ketopyrones  are  blocking  compounds  of  three  oxygen  and  a  methyl 
functional  groups.  Other  molecules  which  have  a  similar  sedative  effect  are  griseofulvin 
and  aspirin. 

Perhaps  the  simplest  chemical  which  is  a  blocking  compound  containing 
3  oxygens  and  a  methyl  functional  group  is  aspirin.  This  has  not  been 
studied  in  animals  for  its  central  relaxant  action.  Quite  independently  of 
the  Kava  study  we  have  determined  recently  the  effect  of  aspirin  and  other 
mild  analgesics  on  the  quantitative  EEG  of  man.  Aspirin  is  the  only  small 
analgesic  which  has  a  typical  sedative  or  antianxiety  effect  on  the  human 
brain.  One  wonders  then  if  aspirin  is  not  a  mild  type  of  Kava  which  has 
been  developed  in  modern  society  and  used  without  ceremony  by  the  tons 
(as  long  as  the  recommended  dose  on  the  label  does  not  exceed  two  tablets) . 

Table  4. — Comparison  of  meprobamate  and  buffered  aspirin  by  the  quantitative  EEG 

















































Buffered  asprin 



















•Significant  at  the  1  in  20  level  of  confidence. 


Conversely  one  might  ask  if  the  Samoans  use  Kava  as  a  "pain-killer".  I 
have  been  told  that  the  plains  Indians  have  in  times  past  used  peyote  as  a 
pain  killing  drug. 

We  have  heard  the  chemists  describe  the  active  Kava-pyrones  which  can  be 
found  in  the  Kava  plant.  We  have  studied  one  minor  synthetic  modification 
of  a  Kava  principle,  namely  Ethysticin.  We  have  not  had  reported  today  any 
serious  attempt  to  synthesize  more  coniplex  Kava  pyrones  with  more  ade- 
quate blocking  groups.  Thus  in  dihydrokawain  the  synthesis  of  a  methylene 
bis  compound  would  be  of  interest,  as  also  would  be  a  benzohydryl  kawain. 
One  should  keep  in  mind  that  as  the  molecule  becomes  larger  and  more  effec- 
tive as  a  blocking  moiety,  the  structure  and  perhaps  the  pharmacological 
effect  will  approach  that  of  dihydrocannabinol  another  oxygen-containing 
molecule.  Also  the  main  physical  characteristic  of  these  Kava  principles,  that 
of  poor  water  solubility  and  good  lipid  solubility,  will  always  result  in  a 
preponderance  of  pharmacological  action  on  the  brain  and  skin  i.e.  ectodermal 
tissues.  This  selectivity  should  be  put  to  good  use  in  the  transport  of  a  prop- 
erly tailored  and  more  active  molecule. 

Finally  the  study  of  the  Samoans  and  their  Kava  ceremony  remains  the 
best  and  possibly  the  last  area  of  scientific  interest  insofar  as  the  intoxicating 
effect  of  Kava  is  concerned. 


We  have  studied  in  animals  and  man  various  extracts,  extracted  chemicals 
and  congeners  of  piper  methysticum  (Kava  Kava).  The  main  pharmaco- 
logical action  is  like  that  of  central  relaxants  of  the  mephenesin-type  as  shown 
by  a  specific  antagonism  to  strychnine  infusion.  Compared  to  modern  syn- 
thetic central  relaxants  all  of  the  Kava  congeners  are  relatively  inactive.  The 
most  active  congener  appears  to  be  dihydromethysticin,  but  this  compound 
when  given  to  man  in  the  dosage  range  of  800  to  1200  mgm  daily  produces 
side  effects  and  allergic  skin  reactions.  The  crude  root  and  extract  produces 
a  yellowing  of  the  skin  similar  to  that  reported  in  the  Kava  drinkers  of 
Samoa.  From  the  data  now  available,  further  study  of  Kava  as  a  modem 
medicinal  agent  would  not  appear  to  be  needed. 


(1 )  New  York  Times  October  19, 1966. 

(2)  Orloff,  M.  J.,  Williams,  H.  L.  and  Pfeiffee,  O.  C.  Proc.  Soc.  Exp.  Biol.  70:  25  257 

(1949).  Timed  Intravenous  Infusion  of  Metrazol  and  Strychnine  for  testing  anti- 
convulsant drugs. 

(3)  JENNEY,  E.  H.  and  C.  C.  Pfeiffer.  Annals  N.Y.  Acad.  Sci.,  64:  679-89  (1956).  The 

Predictable  Value  of  Anticonvulsant  Indices. 

(4)  Keller,  F.  and  Klohs,  M.  W.  Lloydia  26:  1-15  (1963).  A  Review  of  the  Chemistry 

and  Pharmacology  of  the  Constituents  of  Piper  Methysticum. 

(5)  Pfeiffer,  C.  C.  Unpublished  data  this  laboratory. 

(6)  Cronheim,  G.  Report  of  N.  Kline  to  Riker  Labs. 

(7)  Pfeiffer,  C.  C,  Goldstein,  L.,  Murphree,  H.  B.  and  Jenney,  E.  H.  Arch.  Gen. 

Psych.  10  :  446-i53  (1964).  Electroencephalographic  Assay  of  Anti-Anxiety  Drugs. 


(8)  Meter,  H.  J.  Arch.  int.  Pbarmacodyn.  150:  118-131  (1964).  Untersochungen  Uber 
Den  Antikonvulsiven  Wirkungstyp  Der  Kawa-Pyrone  Dihydromethysticin  Mit 
Hilf  e  Chemisch  Induzierter  Krampf  e. 

(5)  Meter,  H.  J.  and  Kretzschmak.  Klin.  Woch.  44/15,  902-903,  1966.  Kawa-Pyrone  eine 
nenartige  substansgruppe  zentraler  Muskelrelaxantien  vom  Typ  des  Mephenesins. 


Ethnographical  Aspects  of  Kava 

Clellan  S.  Ford 

Department  of  Anthropology,  Yale  University,  New  Haven,  Connecticut 

The  Polynesian  term  kava  is  generally  used  in  English  to  specify  the  shrub 
Piper  methysticum  (Forster),  its  root,  and  a  beverage  made  from  it.  With 
slight  variation,  this  is  the  term  used  in  western  Polynesia,  including  Tonga. 
In  Samoa  the  form  is  ''ava,  in  Tahiti  ava.  In  Hawaii  it  is  awa.  The  Maori 
took  with  them  to  New  Zealand  tales  concerning  the  use  of  kava  but  did  not 
find  the  plant  in  their  new  home.  They  found  another  plant,  Piper  excelsum, 
which  they  did  not  make  into  a  beverage,  but  which  they  named  kaiodkawa. 
The  term  kava  or  its  equivalent  in  Polynesia  is  also  an  adjective  designating 
various  properties  of  food  and  drink.  In  Hawaii  it  means  bitter,  sour,  sharp, 
pungent.  In  the  Marquesas  it  signifies  bitter,  sour,  sharp.  In  Tahiti  the  range 
is  broad,  including  bitter,  sour,  acid,  acrid,  salt,  sharp,  and  pungent 
(Churchill  p.  56). 

The  use  of  Piper  methysticxmi  is  not  confined  to  Polynesia.  In  Micronesia 
it  is  found  in  the  Caroline  Islands.  It  is  found  in  many  places  in  eastern 
Melanesia:  in  New  Britain,  New  Ireland,  the  Admiralties,  the  Banks  and 
Torres  Islands,  the  New  Hebrides,  and  in  Fiji.  In  Melanesia  its  use  is  of  spotty 
distribution.  In  some  instances  islands  only  a  few  miles  apart  dilffer  from 
one  another  in  regard  to  the  use  of  kava.  For  example  the  people  of  Ambrym 
in  the  New  Hebrides  look  down  upon  their  neighbors  on  Pentecost  Island, 
only  seven  miles  away,  because  they  drink  the  beverage.  Sometimes,  as  in  the 
case  of  Tikopia  (a  Polynesian  outlyer  in  Melanesia),  betel  chewing  and  kava 
are  found  together.  On  Tikopia,  interestingly  enough,  the  beverage  is  not 
drunk  but  is  poured  on  the  ground  as  a  libation  to  the  gods. 

Since  our  personal  experience  with  kava  and  its  uses  is  for  the  most  part 
confined  to  Fiji  and  Tonga,  the  remainder  of  this  discussion  will  relate  to 
those  islands.  My  wife  and  I  have  visited  most  of  the  major  islands  in  Tonga, 
the  islands  of  central  and  southern  Lau,  the  Yasawas,  Kandavu,  Taveuni, 
Ovalau,  and  a  number  of  villages  on  Viti  Levu  and  on  Vanua  Levu.  In 
practically  all  of  these  places  we  have  participated  in  kava  ceremonies  of 
one  sort  or  another,  and  I  must  admit  that  this  has  been  an  enjoyable 

The  Fijian  term  for  the  plant,  the  root,  and  the  beverage  made  from  it  is 
Yaqona.  This  term  is  apparently  without  parallel  outside  the  archipelago, 
in  either  Melanesia  or  Polynesia.  The  word  does  not  appear  to  be  used  in  an 
adjectival  form.  Lester,  however,  reports  that  a  word  Qona  is  used  on  the 
northwest  coast  of  Viti  Levu  to  denote  both  "beverage"  and  "bitter."  He 
suggests  that  this  may  indicate  that  it  was  to  this  part  of  Fiji  that  kava  was 
first  brought  and  that  these  were  the  people  who  supplied  the  name  Yaqona, 
which  is  now  universally  used  throughout  the  archipelago.  More  commonly 
in  Fiji  "bitter"  is  gaga^  which  also  means  '■'■poisonous.'''' 


Our  first  introduction  to  kava  was  on  the  island  of  Naviti  in  the  Yasawas 
off  the  northwest  coast  of  Viti  Levu.  We  had  been  taken  there  by  a  small 
copra  vessel  and  dropped  off  on  the  reef  in  the  early  hours  of  the  morning. 
We  were  met  by  a  number  of  Fijians  who  carried  us  and  our  luggage  ashore 
and  who  escorted  us  to  the  house  of  Koko,  Katu  Filimone  Kama,  in  the 
village  of  Kese. 

It  was,  for  us,  an  awkward  situation.  The  Fijians  on  the  island  of  Naviti 
had  an  English  vocabulary  of  scarcely  more  than  "quite,"  "rather,"  and 
"hello,"  and  our  Fijian  was  nil.  We  were  in  age  approximately  twenty-five 
and  quite  unaccustomed  to  the  South  Pacific.  Of  course  we  had  read  a  good 
bit  about  the  Fiji  Islands  and  the  indigenous  customs,  including  kava  drink- 
ing. We  had,  for  example,  been  able  to  read  about  kava  in  the  Encyclopaedia 
Britannica — you  can  still  read  it  there — and  I  quote : 

KAVA  ...  an  intoxicating,  but  non  alcoholic  beverage,  produced  principally  in  the 
islands  of  the  south  Pacific,  from  the  roots  of  leaves  of  a  variety  of  the  pepper  plant 
{Piper  latifoliuni  or  P.  methpsticum) .  The  preparation  is  peculiar.  The  roots  or  leaves 
are  first  chewed  by  young  girls  or  boys,  care  being  taken  that  only  those  possessing  sound 
teeth  and  excellent  general  health  shall  take  part  in  this  operation.  The  chewed  material 
is  then  placed  in  a  bowl,  and  water  or  coco-nut  milk  is  poured  over  it,  the  whole  is  well 
stirred,  and  subsequently  the  woody  matter  is  removed  by  an  ingenious  but  simple 
mechanical  manipulation.  The  resulting  liquid,  which  has  a  muddy  or  cafe-au-lait  ap- 
pearance or  is  of  a  greenish  hue  if  made  from  leaves,  is  now  ready  for  consumption.  The 
taste  of  the  liquid  is  at  first  sweet,  and  then  pungent  and  acrid.  The  usual  dose  corre- 
sponds to  about  two  mouthfuls  of  the  root.  Intoxication  (but  this  apparently  only  applies 
to  those  not  inured  to  the  use  of  the  liquor)  follows  in  about  20  minutes.  The  drunkenness 
produced  by  kava  is  of  a  melancholy,  silent  and  drowsy  character.  Excessive  drinking  is 
said  to  lead  to  skin  and  other  diseases,  but  per  contra  many  medicinal  virtues  are  ascribed 
to  the  preparation.  .  .  .  [Anonymous]. 

We  also  had  read  various  colorful  reports  about  kava  and  its  use  written  by 
earlier  visitors  to  Fiji,  as  in  the  following  examples : 

In  their  devotion  they  have  a  kind  of  sacrament,  using  the  root  called  on  the  Sandwich 
islands  ava,  but  angooner  in  this  country.  In  the  first  place  they  wash  the  root  clean, 
and  then  chew  it,  and  put  it  into  a  large  plantain  leaf,  which  is  as  big  as  a  small  tea  table, 
which  they  lay  in  a  hole  in  the  ground,  and  then  pour  a  small  quantity  of  water  to  it,  and 
rinse  the  substance  out.  This  liquor  the  Rombetty  serves  out  in  small  plantain  leaves  to 
his  people,  and  as  each  one  receives  it,  they  all  clap  their  hands  and  say  mannor  angooner, 
which  is  returning  thanks  to  God  in  their  way.  After  partaking  of  this  they  think  they  are 
bappy,  its  effect  being  similar  to  that  of  laudanum  [Patterson  p.  90] . 

The  great  token  of  hospitality,  when  one  enters  a  native  house,  and  especially  that  of 
a  chief,  is  the  preparing  and  presenting  to  the  guests  the  native  drink,  called  kava,  an 
article  never  lacking  in  tlpUng  Fiji,  as  we  were  often  convinced,  to  our  sorrow.  So  we 
are  not  surprised  that  Patioli  should  call  for  kava  the  moment  the  conversation  waned. 
In  Samoa  it  is  considered  very  rude  to  refuse  to  drink  the  beverage,  but  that  is  a  punish- 
ment we  can  hardly  Inflict  upon  ourselves ;  so  we  will  allow  some  pressing  engagement  to 
call  us  away.  .  .  .  Kava  has  medicinal  qualities  of  not  a  little  power.  Drunk  to  excess, 
it  acts  like  opium,  and  the  habit  once  formed  cannot  easily  be  broken.  There  are  white 
men,  on  some  of  the  islands  in  the  South  Seas,  who  live  almost  entirely  upon  the  baleful 
preparation.  To  them  it  is  as  much  a  necessity  as  is  the  morning  dram  to  an  inebriate  in 
other  lands.  To  the  Inexperienced,  the  very  thought  of  drinking  the  stuff  is  repelling,  but 
if  he  can  summon  courage  to  try  it,  he  will  find  a  cup  of  it  refreshing  and  somewhat 
nutritive.  The  natives  very  justly  attribute  some  of  their  ailments  to  an  inordinate  use  of 


it.  The  liabitual  kara  drinker  may  be  recognized  by  bis  fishy-looking  eyes  and  the  scaly 
appearance  of  his  skin  [Adams  pp.  117-20] . 

I  had  tasted  it  on  several  occasions,  this  kava  of  the  other  islands,  without  enjoyment. 
But  I  recalled  a  warning  from  several  old-timers  I  had  met  that  one  could  not  more 
grievously  offend  a  Fijian  than  by  refusing  this  beverage,  whose  serving  is  everywhere 
such  a  ceremonial,  prescribed  by  such  rigid  custom.  .  .  .  "Will  this  go  to  my  head?"  I 
asked  Sakobi,  remembering  the  waiting  boat- 

•'Xo.  Xo  go  to  head,"  he  assured  me.  And  Jcava,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  is  not  an  alcoholic 
intoxicant.  Rather  it  might  be  described  as  a  mildly  stimulating  drug.  A  brownish 
murky  fluid,  slightly  pungent  and  acrid,  it  is  usually  obnoxious  to  the  novice, 
but  Europeans  in  the  islands  often  acquire  a  taste  for  it,  and  business  men 
frequently  keep  it  in  the  ofiBce  for  an  occasional  swig  with  their  customers.  Its 
constant  and  immoderate  use  over  a  long  period  of  years  is  sometimes  injurious 
to  the  eyes,  so  that  old  /i-ara-topers  often  become  nearly  blind,  but  taken  moder- 
ately or  even  in  large  quantity  from  time  to  time  it  is  of  acknowledged  medicinal  value, 
to  such  extent  that  the  most  zealous  missionaries  do  not  combat  the  native  custom.  And. 
not  being  an  intoxicant,  it  does  not  go  to  one's  head ;  one  can  drink  any  amoimt  of  it  and 
remain  clear  minded.  The  funny  thing  about  it,  however,  is  that  it  does  go  to  one's  legs. 
Sakobi,  answering  my  query  literally,  had  neglected  to  tell  me  this.  But  I  discovered  it 
for  myself  when,  bidding  my  hosts  adieu  at  midnight,  I  felt  my  knees  wobble  and  slid 
like  a  fireman  down  the  slippery  pole  that  led  across  the  moat.  At  the  moment,  I  at- 
tributed the  mishap  to  the  stiffness  resultant  from  sitting  cross-legged  all  evening  in  an 
unaccustomed  posture.  But  when  we  started  out  across  the  maze  of  roads  and  tracks 
toward  the  wharf,  where  the  skipper  was  conscientiously  sounding  the  promised  fog-horn 
as  a  summons  to  hasten,  there  was  no  question  but  that  something  was  wrong  with  the 
legs  themselves. 

"Come  here,  Sakobi.  Give  me  a  hand." 

He  locked  his  arm  through  mine.  But  his  legs  were  just  as  bad.  For  a  quarter-mile  we 
made  progress,  leaning  against  each  other  as  our  feet  gravitated  toward  the  center.  Then, 
despite  all  efforts  at  control,  his  started  for  the  left  and  mine  for  the  right,  and  we  both 
sat  down  heavily  [Foster  pp.  238-^] . 

These  and  many  of  the  other  early  missionary  and  travel  reports  were 
equally  disturbing,  and  it  was  with  no  little  apprehension  that  we  sat  in  the 
Roko's  hut  wliile  the  Yaqona  was  being  prepared  for  our  welcome  reception. 
To  our  relief,  the  root  had  been  pulverized  with  a  mortar  and  pestle  rather 
than  chewed.  But  there  were  other  sources  of  concern.  We  had  been  schooled 
to  beware  of  water  unless  it  had  been  boiled.  And  here  was  a  stalwart  Fijian 
plunging  his  brown  hands  and  wrists  into  a  wooden  bowl  to  knead  the  mix- 
ture while  another  poured  water  over  the  powdered  root.  "What  risks  were 
we  taking :  drunkemiess,  disease,  polluted  water,  unclean  hands  ?  The  boat 
had  left,  not  to  return  for  six  months,  and  there  was  no  other  way  off  the 
island,  not  even  by  outrigger.  And  the  only  medical  assistance  on  the  island 
was  said  to  be  a  Fijian  "doctor"  with  one  year's  training  in  first  aid.  To 
drink  or  not  to  drink  was  the  question. 

We  had  been  told  by  Europeans  in  Suva  that  it  was  imperative  that  we 
accept  what  we  were  offered,  including  kava,  when  we  were  in  a  Fijian 
village.  Furthermore,  we  had  been  told  that  the  brew  was  not  as  bad  as  it 
was  made  out  to  be  and  that  the  best  thing  to  do  was  to  drink  it  down 
rapidly — that  if  we  sipped  it  we  Avould  be  lost  and  never  finish  the  cupful, 
which  would  be  really  bad  mannered  of  us.  So  when  the  cupbearer,  glistening 
with  coconut  oil,  brought  a  cupful  to  me  and  then  to  my  wife  we  downed 
it  without  hesitation.  To  me  it  tasted  like  the  smell  of  a  cedar  lead  pencil 


when  it  is  sharpened,  and  aside  from  a  slight  numbing  sensation  at  the  base 
of  the  tongue  and  in  the  throat,  there  was  nothing  out  of  the  ordinary  about 
the  experience.  In  fact  when  we  struck  lights  to  our  cigarettes  after  having 
had  our  first  taste  of  kava,  they  seemed  to  be  especially  satisfying. 

During  the  year  that  we  spent  in  Fiji  on  that  field  trip  in  1935-36  we 
drank  a  great  deal  of  kava,  probably  as  much  if  not  more  than  many  of  the 
Fijians.  We  became  quite  fond  of  it  and  never  experienced,  insofar  as  we 
could  detect,  any  of  the  ill  effects  attributed  to  the  drink.  Nor  did  we  ever, 
during  that  trip  or  subsequent  shorter  trips  to  the  islands  of  the  South 
Pacific,  see  a  native  "drunk"  from  kava  drinking.  Exhausted,  yes.  Some  of 
the  all-night  three-  and  four-day-long  festivities  that  we  attended  could 
not  fail  to  wear  people  out,  but  I  am  convinced  that  the  kava  did  little  to 
cause  what  could  more  accurately  be  described  as  a  state  of  being  "punch- 
drunk"  with  fatigue. 

Apparently  the  early  inhabitants  of  Fiji  brought  the  kava  plant  with 
them  from  Indonesia.  From  Fiji  it  was  probably  introduced  somewhat 
later  to  Tonga  and  to  Samoa.  In  Fiji,  as  far  as  can  be  determined  it  appears 
that  the  root  was  originally  grated  on  mushroom  coral  or  pounded  with 
stones  before  it  was  mixed  with  water  to  prepare  the  beverage.  The  practice 
of  chewing  {mama)  the  root  seems  to  have  been  introduced  to  Fiji  by 
Tongans  or  Samoans,  although  there  is  a  possibility  that  it  may  have  come 
to  them  from  other  parts  of  Melanesia.  The  custom  of  chewing  kava  was 
observed  by  early  travelers  and  missionaries  in  the  eastern  islands  of  Lau 
and  in  the  coastal  settlements  on  Viti  Levu.  Young  men  chewed  the  root  and 
deposited  it  in  a  bowl  to  form  the  basis  of  the  kava  mixture.  But  chewing 
the  root  was  never  practiced  in  much  of  the  interior  of  Viti  Levu  or  Vanua 
Levu.  The  church  and  the  government  discouraged  the  practice,  and  today 
the  root  is  either  brayed  between  two  stones  or  pulverized  in  a  wooden 
mortar  with  a  pestle.  An  oft-repeated  story  justifying  the  discouragement 
of  chewing  kava  as  a  method  of  preparation  relates  that  in  the  1870s  a  Dr. 
Macgregor  weighed  six  ounces  of  the  root,  which  was  then  chewed  in  the 
usual  manner.  When  deposited  in  the  bowl  it  weighed  seventeen  ounces 
(Gordon-Cumming  p.  51) . 

There  is  some  evidence  to  indicate  that  the  beverage  was  at  one  time 
prepared  in  an  earthen  pit  lined  with  leaves,  constructed  much  like  an  earth 
oven.  The  development  of  pottery  in  Fiji  took  place  quite  early,  however, 
and  pottery  bowls  took  precedence  and  were  used  in  many  parts  of  the 
islands  for  kava  mixing.  Very  crude  wooden  bowls  resembling  the  pottery 
ones  were  used  elsewhere.  At  least  four  to  five  hundred  years  ago  the  modern 
wooden  bowls  came  into  general  use  and  for  the  most  part  replaced  the 
pottery  bowls.  As  far  as  is  known,  these  wooden  bowls  were  made  only  on 
Kambara  in  Lau,  and  were  thence  disseminated  to  the  rest  of  Fiji  and  to 
Tonga.  Whether  the  design  for  the  bowl  originated  in  Kambara  or  was 
introduced  thare  from  Samoa  and/or  Tonga  is  not  known,  but  since  the 
term  by  which  the  bowl  is  known  in  Fiji,  tanoa^  is  a  Polynesian  word,  it 
seems  likely  that  the  bowls  are  of  Polynesian  origin.  In  any  case,  the  tanoa 
has  been  in  use  throughout  most  of  Fiji  for  the  past  few  centuries. 


The  kava  bowl  varies  in  size  and  shape,  but  it  is  generally  round,  from 
one  to  three  feet  in  diameter,  and  with  four  legs  (occasionally  more)  all 
made  from  one  piece  of  wood,  vesi  (Afselia  Mjuga).  The  front  of  the  bowl 
has  a  triangular  suspension  lug  with  two  holes,  to  which  sennit  braid  is  at- 
tached to  provide  a  means  of  hanging  the  bowl  on  the  wall.  Today  all  chiefly 
kava  bowls  have  white  cowrie  shells  attached  to  the  end  of  the  cord.  The  lug 
and  its  attached  braid  are  important  parts  of  the  kava  bowl  and  play  a  major 
role  in  the  kava  ceremonial,  as  will  be  described  below.  The  tanoa  is  never 
used  for  any  other  purpose  than  that  of  mixing  kava,  and  after  a  long 
period  of  use  its  interior  surface  collects  a  blue-green  patina. 

The  most  usual  cups  for  serving  kava  are  the  pointed  halves  of  coconut 
shells,  scraped  thin  and  highly  polished.  Most  cups  are  about  two  inches  in 
diameter,  but  some  are  much  larger.  We  have  one  that  was  presented  to  me 
which  measures  six  inches  across  and  holds  well  over  two  cupfuls  of  liquid. 
It  is  very  old  and,  like  the  older  kava  bowls,  it  has  an  interior  patina. 

When  the  time  comes  for  the  kava  to  be  mixed,  the  pounded  or  grated  root 
is  placed  in  the  bowl.  To  this  is  added  water,  which  is  kneaded  together  with 
the  powdered  root.  More  water  is  added  and  the  mixing  progresses.  A  strainer 
of  vau  (hibiscus  fiber)  is  used  at  the  end  of  the  mixing  to  strain  out  the 
woody  particles  from  the  drink.  As  the  strainer  collects  fibers,  it  is  wrung 
out  and  taken  out  of  the  bowl  so  that  the  particles  can  be  shaken  out.  This 
process  is  repeated  several  times  until  the  liquid  is  relatively  clear.  If  the 
mixture  appears  to  be  too  concentrated,  more  water  is  added.  Then  the  kava 
is  ready  for  serving. 

It  is  believed  that  the  kava  ceremony  in  Fiji  was  formerly  a  predominately 
religious  rite,  carried  out  by  priests.  The  purpose  was  to  establish  communion 
with  the  supernatural.  Through  the  kava  ceremony  the  priests  were  believed 
to  reach  the  gods  and  ensure  their  assistance  in  life  here  and  hereafter, 
Eivalry  existed  between  these  religious  leaders  and  the  political  leaders. 
As  the  latter  grew  in  strength  by  virtue  of  consolidating  more  and  more 
territory  under  their  control,  they  ousted  the  priestly  class  from  their  posi- 
tion of  power,  Coincidentally,  the  missionaries  came  in  to  take  over  the  all- 
important  function  of  cementing  the  relationship  between  the  people  and 
the  supernatural.  The  political  leaders  took  over  the  kava  ceremony,  and 
from  that  time  on  it  has  been  more  socio-political  than  religious,  though 
much  of  the  ritual  can  be  traced  back  to  usages  in  the  past  that  were  strictly 
religious  in  character.  This  change  in  emphasis  apparently  occurred  early 
in  the  eighteenth  century,  and  the  formal  kava  ceremony  has  remained  much 
the  same  ever  since. 

In  placing  the  current  kava  ceremony  in  perspective  it  is  important  to 
note  that  Fijian  and  Tongan  society  was  and  still  is  highly  conscious  of 
differences  in  rank  or  status.  Persons  are  arranged  according  to  inheritance 
in  a  hierarchy  from  kings  to  high  chiefs,  to  lesser  chiefs,  and  to  commoners. 
One  of  the  major  functions  of  the  kava  ceremony  is  clearly  to  reaffirm  (or 
establish)  status.  When  visiting  dignitaries  arrive,  this  is  the  means  by  which 
strangers  are  accorded  their  position  in  the  village  or  district  to  which  they 
have  come.  Among  a  people  whose  inter-island  and  inter-district  relationships 


were  more  often  than  not  of  a  warlike  nature,  this  was  a  respected  medium 
through  which  rapport  could  be  established,  at  least  a  temporary  truce 
declared,  and  a  modicum  of  trade  relations  ensured. 

Formal  kava  ceremonies,  yaqona  vakaturaga,  are  imbedded  in  a  large 
complex  of  activities.  Much  has  to  be  done  in  preparation,  for  many  days 
in  advance,  Wlien  the  participants  have  gathered  and  are  properly  seated, 
the  ceremony  begins  with  the  formal  presentation  of  offerings :  kava  roots, 
whales'  teeth,^  tobacco,  food,  and  articles  such  as  pandanus  mats  and  tapa 
cloth.  Then  comes  the  kava  mixing  and  drinking.  After  this  solemnity  there 
may  be  dances  and  songs.  In  any  case  there  follows,  perhaps  an  hour  or 
two  later,  the  distribution  of  the  feast  foods  and  all  those  assembled  proceed 
to  eat. 

The  seating  of  the  participants  during  the  presentation  of  offerings  and 
the  kava  ceremony  is  most  important.  The  kava  bowl  is  located  in  the  middle 
of  the  meeting  place.  Behind  it  is  seated  the  kava  mixer.  At  his  side,  both  to 
the  right  and  the  left  are  what  might  be  termed  helpers.  Behind  the  kava 
mixer  and  the  bowl  are  seated  a  number  of  men  who  will  form  the  chorus 
for  the  chanting  which  accompanies  various  parts  of  the  ritual.  The  wa  ni 
tanoa,  the  sennit  braid  with  its  white  cowries,  is  stretched  out  directly  away' 
from  the  mixer  pointing  toward  the  most  important  personage  present,  the 
chief  of  the  district  or  a  visiting  dignitary.  The  first  cup  of  kava  will  be 
presented  to  him.  To  his  left  and  slightly  forward  sits  his  talking  chief.  To 
his  right  sit  a  selected  number  of  lesser  chiefs,  all  slightly  forward  toward 
the  bowl. 

The  significance  in  Tonga  of  the  suspensary  lug  and  its  cord  has  been 
vividly  described  by  Sir  Peter  Buck,  himself  part  Polynesian  (Maori)  : 

The  following  incident  illustrates  the  method  of  indirection  dearly  loved  by  the 
Polynesians.  After  the  death  of  the  last  Tui  Tonga,  two  of  the  greatest  supporting 
chiefs  of  the  Tui  Tonga  dynasty  came  to  George  Tuhou,  who  had  been  gathering  the 
reins  of  temporal  power  into  his  hands,  and  informed  him  that  they  wished  to  make 
kava  for  him.  They  conducted  him  into  the  guest  house  and,  seating  themselves  behind 
the  kava  bowl,  proceeded  to  prepare  the  kava.  George  Tubou  sat  down  opposite  and 
waited.  He  looked  casually  across  at  his  companions  and  saw  what  must  have  been  a 
soul-stirring  sight.  The  suspensory  lug  of  the  bowl  was  pointing  at  him.  The  chiefs 
had  not  spoken,  but  the  speechless  bowl  was  announcing  a  king  [Buck  p.  299]. 

The  precise  seating  arrangement  and  the  form  of  the  ceremonial  differs 
slightly  from  one  island  and  district  to  another,  and  there  is  no  need  to 
describe  these  in  detail  here. 

However,  it  may  be  useful  to  attempt  a  generalized  description  so  that 
some  picture  of  such  an  occasion  is  before  us.  Imagine  then,  the  chiefs  sitting 

1  The  tabua,  or  whale's  tooth,  is  the  ceremonial  currency  of  Fiji.  Holes  are  bored  in  each  end 
of  the  tooth,  to  which  is  attached  a  cord  of  sennit  braid  or  pandanus.  A  proper  cord  is  made  of 
four-ply  braid,  known  as  sui  ni  gata  or  "bones  of  the  snake."  Interestingly  enough,  the  tabua  is 
not  just  a  whale's  tooth  ;  it  must  be  old,  oiled  and  polished,  and  it  must  have  an  acceptable  cord. 
What  was  employed  in  its  place  before  whales'  teeth  were  available  is  not  known.  Stones  shaped 
much  like  whales'  teeth  have  been  found  dating  back  to  early  times.  Wooden  tabuas  have  been 
known  to  be  used.  A  suggestion  has  been  made  that  originally  the  human  collar  bone  was  used. 
Be  this  as  it  may,  for  many  generations  the  tabua  has  been  the  most  important  possession  of  any 
Fijian,  and  generally  speaking  they  are  predominantly  in  the  custody  of  high  ranking  chieftains. 
With  the  presentation  of  a  tabua  at  a  proper  kava  ceremony,  one  may  obtain  from  a  chief  almost 
anything  one  is  desirous  of  having. 


facing  the  'bowl  and  the  proceedings  about  to  begin.  The  occasion  is  that  of  a 
visiting  chief  from,  another  village.  All  of  the  actual  participants  are  in 
colorful  costume:  some  with  yellow  pandanus  kilts,  some  with  green  leaf 
sulus^  some  garbed  with  colorful  tapa,  the  native  bark  cloth.  All  are  glistening 
with  coconut  oil. 

On  both  sides,  at  a  short  distance  away  from  the  circle  of  those  participat- 
ing, may  be  several  hundred  men,  women,  and  children — observers  only.  Sud- 
denly there  is  a  hush  of  voices,  and  then  complete  silence.  From  this  point 
on  none  of  the  participants,  seated  cross-legged  in  fixed  position,  will  make 
any  movement  that  is  not  a  part  of  the  prescribed  ritual.  There  is  no  talking, 
no  smoking,  no  uncrossing  of  the  legs,  no  extraneous  movements  of  the  arms 
or  head.  All  attention  is  focused  on  those  who  are  performing  their  roles  in 
accordance  with  traditional  rules. 

The  visit  ing  chief  moves  into  the  center  of  the  circle,  crawling  on  his  knees. 
He  carries  with  him  in  his  hands  the  root  of  the  kava  plant,  or  perhaps  a 
tabua.  Now  comes  the  presentation:  ai  sevu  sevu.  With  cupped  hands  he 
claps  three  times  and  addresses  the  host  chief.  He  says  then  in  effect  "here 
is  a  small  offering  ..."  Tlie  host's  talking  chief,  or  master  of  ceremonies 
and  the  chief  himself  interrupt  to  say  "a  great  thing,  a  great  thing,"  and  an 
interchange  of  deprecatory  remarks  on  the  part  of  the  visitor  folloAved  by 
complimentary  comments  by  the  host  continues  for  a  short  time.  Finally 
the  master  of  ceremonies  says  "let  it  be  presented."  At  this  point  the  partici- 
pants clap  their  hands  in  unison. 

The  master  of  ceremonies,  with  his  hands  lightly  resting  on  the  offering, 
announces  in  stylized  form  the  acceptance.  This  concluded,  the  kava  mixer 
tilts  the  bowl  toward  the  host  chief,  to  show  him  that  the  powdered  root  is 
ready.  In  response,  the  master  of  ceremonies  says  "Zc>m&(x"  which  means 
"proceed  to  mix."  An  attendant  pours  water  in  the  bowl  and  the  kneading 
process  takes  place.  After  several  minutes  the  kava  mixer  holds  the  strainer 
above  the  bowl,  allowing  some  of  the  beverage  to  pour  into  it.  If  the  master 
of  ceremonies  thinks  the  drink  is  too  strong  he  calls  out  in  effect  "More 
water!"  Water  is  added  and  the  procedure  repeated  until  the  master  of 
ceremonies,  satisfied,  says  "Enough  water,  strain  it."  At  this  point  the  men 
behind  the  bowl  begin  to  chant,  and  this  will  continue  until  the  kava  is  served 
to  the  chief. 

When  the  kava  maker  considers  the  beverage  properly  strained  he  strikes 
a  pose  with  hands  together  and,  looking  into  the  bowl,  murmurs  that  "the 
kava  is  ready  to  be  served."  Hearing  this,  the  master  of  ceremonies  says 
loudly  '■^Cobo — i.e.  Clap,"  whereupon  the  kava  mixer  and  his  attendants,  one 
on  either  side  of  him,  clap  with  cupped  hands  three  times.  The  cupbearer, 
whose  face  is  usually  blackened  and  whose  arms  and  legs  bear  circlets  of 
leaves,  appears  at  the  bowl.  The  kava  mixer  lifts  his  strainer  and  allows  the 
beverage  to  trickle  into  the  cup  which  the  cupbearer  holds  out  for  him.  In 
time  with  the  chanting  the  cupbearer,  now  partly  upright  with  knees  bent, 
sways  and  moves  forward  in  graceful  movements  until  he  is  quite  near  the 
chief.  At  this  point  the  chanting  stops.  The  cupbearer  crouches  down  low, 
holding  his  cupful  of  kava  in  both  hands  with  arms  outstretched  toward  the 


chief.  The  master  of  ceremonies  says  "Go  ahead,  rise  up"  and  the  cupbearer 
stands  up  and  walks  to  the  chief,  to  whom  he  gives  the  cup  of  kava.  The 
chief  now  drinks  the  kava.  As  soon  as  the  master  of  ceremonies  sees  that 
the  chief  has  finished  drinking  (in  some^ instances  the  chief  may  spin  the 
empty  bowl  in  the  center  of  the  mat)  he  signals  again  for  the  participants 
to  clap  three  times. 

The  master  of  ceremonies  receives  a  cup  of  kava  from  the  cupbearer,  and 
perhaps  the  visiting  chief  and  his  talking  chief.  This  ends  the  formal  part 
of  the  ceremony,  and  this  is  announced  by  the  master  of  ceremonies  who 
proclaims  that  the  "chiefly  kava  is  dry."  The  wa  ni  tanoa  is  pulled  back  out 
of  sight.  The  kava  mixer  and  his  attendants  clap  three  times.  From  then  on 
the  formalities  are  slackened.  It  is  now  permissible  to  talk  and  to  smoke 
while  the  other  chiefs  are  being  served  their  kava.  This  may  last  from  one 
half  hour  to  more  than  two  hours,  until  the  bowl  is  emptied.  Never  is  a  kava 
bowl  left  containing  unused  beverage.  Following  this  comes  the  division  of 
feast  foods  and  then  the  feast  itself. 

Good  descriptive  accounts  much  more  elaborate  than  the  sketch  provided 
above  are  available  in  the  literature  (cf.  Hocart,  Lester,  and  Mariner).  The 
important  things  to  note  here  are,  first,  that  throughout  the  entire  proceed- 
ing the  arrangement  of  participants  and  their  behavior,  including  the  chant- 
ing and  the  movements  of  the  cupbearer  who  serves  the  kava,  are  rigidly 
prescribed  by  custom  and,  second,  that  the  occasion  is  a  very  solemn  affair. 
In  the  not-too-distant  past,  the  entire  village  was  compelled  to  be  silent  while 
kava  was  being  prepared  in  formal  fashion,  and  if  anyone,  even  a  child, 
made  any  noticeable  noise,  he  was  clubbed.  We  have  a  recording  of  a  formal 
kava  ceremony  held  at  Naviti  in  the  Yasawas  in  1960  that  was  performed 
especially  for  the  purpose  of  getting  it  on  record.  The  tape  recorded  the 
ceremony  clearly,  and  despite  the  fact  that  there  was  an  audience  of  more 
than  two  hundred  men,  women,  and  children,  no  noise  extraneous  to  the 
performance  is  to  be  heard  except  for  the  occasional  cackling  and  crowing 
of  the  native  fowl. 

Apart  from  the  Yaqona  vakaturaga^  the  formal  kava  ceremony  with  which 
we  have  been  concerned,  kava  drinking  takes  place  in  Fiji  quite  infor- 
mally. It  is  frequently  drunk  in  casual  fashion  by  all  inhabitants,  including 
Europeans.  Children  do  not  drink  kava,  and  at  what  age  they  begin  to 
participate  is  difficult  to  determine.  In  native  schools  they  are  taught  the 
ceremonial,  using  plain  water  as  a  substitute  for  kava  and  wooden  tabuas. 
In  Suva,  kava  is  available  in  most  stores  and  shops  for  the  customer  who 
wishes  a  cup.  A  large  bowl  of  kava  is  always  available  at  the  Tourist 
Bureau,  Avhere,  to  please  American  tourists,  there  is  usually  a  lump  of  ice 
floating  in  the  drink  to  keep  it  cool — to  my  taste,  definitely  not  an  im- 
provement. Among  the  Fijians,  kava  seems  to  be  holding  its  own  against 
the  importation  of  alcoholic  beverages  and  soft  drinks.  An  interesting  story 
concerning  Ratu  Sekuna  relates  that  upon  going  to  Oxford  for  his  LL.D., 
he  was  concerned  that  he  would  not  find  kava  there.  So  he  had  many  bowls 
prepared,  placed  them  in  the  sun,  and  took  with  him  to  Oxford  the  residue, 

262-016  0-67— 13 


"instant  kava,"  which  he  could  then  simply  mix  with  water  when  he 

It  is  clear  that  after  one  gets  used  to  its  peculiar  odor  and  flavor,  kava 
does  provide  a  pleasurable  sensation.  Added  to  this  fact  is  the  long  tradi- 
tion of  kava  drinking  as  a  part  of  a  large  and  important  complex  of 
activities,  including  gift  exchange,  chanting,  dancing,  and  feasting. 
Drinking  kava  is  considered  appropriate  to  a  wide  variety  of  occasions, 
from  birth  through  marriage  and  death.  It  is  the  only  chiefly  way  to  wel- 
come an  important  visitor.  Sharing  a  bowl  of  kava  tends  to  foster  socializ- 
ing and  friendship,  and  to  the  Fijian  it  is  unthinkable  that  kava  should 
not  be  a  part  of  commemorating  any  important  event.  Kava  is  never,  to 
my  knowledge,  drunk  alone.  The  practice  is  solidly  imbedded  in  social  and 
political  context. 

The  complex  of  the  customs  surrounding  kava,  which  has  been  briefly 
described  above,  is  unique  to  those  islands  in  the  South  Pacific  where  it 
has  been  traditional  for  generations.  It  is  impossible  to  find  precise  paral- 
lels in  other  parts  of  the  world.  On  the  other  hand,  if  one  concentrates 
upon  one  particular  aspect  of  the  complex  at  a  time,  it  is  possible  to  ex- 
amine somewhat  similar  phenomena  for  comparative  purposes.  It  is  im- 
portant to  remember,  however,  that  such  parallels  as  may  exist  in  other 
parts  of  the  Avorld  rarely  imply  any  direct  historical  connection. 

If  one  singles  out  the  practice  of  chewing  the  root  as  a  method  of 
preparing  the  beverage,  which  was  widely  practiced  in  western  Polynesia, 
one  can  find  many  parallels  elsewhere.  Throughout  southern  Asia  there 
are  customs  of  premasticating  rice  or  other  grains  to  produce  fermented 
drinks  or  wines.  South  American  cMcha.  a  fermented  drink,  is  prepared 
in  similar  fashion  from  premasticated  maize  or  sweet  cassava.  Despite  the 
similarity  between  the  preparation  of  these  fermented  drinks  and  the 
method  of  preparing  kava  in  some  parts  of  the  South  Pacific,  there  seems 
to  be  little  justification  for  going  further  than  to  point  out  that  premastica- 
tion  has  its  uses  as  a  means  of  producing  chemical  changes  in  the  substances 
chewed.  And  the  premastication  of  food  by  mothers  to  feed  their  infants 
is  such  a  universal  custom  that  the  probability  of  independent  inventions 
using  this  method  for  the  preparation  of  beverages  is  extremely  high. 
There  certainly  does  not  appear  to  be  any  support  for  the  notion,  implied 
by  Ling  Shun-sheng  (pp.  84-86),  for  example,  that  there  is  a  specific 
historical  connection  between  the  practice  of  premasticating  grains  for 
fermented  beverages  in  Asia  and  in  South  America  and  the  chewing  of 
kava  in  the  South  Pacific. 

If  one  concentrates  on  kava  itself,  no  direct  equivalent  is  available.  But 
a  related  plant.  Piper  hetel,  is  used  throughout  a  wide  area  to  the  west  of 
the  kava  drinkers,  including  western  Melanesia,  Indonesia,  Formosa,  and 
much  of  Asia.  In  these  areas,  people  chew  a  mixture  of  betel  leaf  or  seed 
together  with  lime  and  the  nut  of  the  areca  or  other  palm  tree.  The  effects 
of  chewing  this  mixture  are  said  to  be  much  like  drinking  kava,  only  more 
so.  Betel  chewing  has  its  social  connotations,  and  in  many  places,  sharing 
the  betel  mixture,  either  before  or  after  mastication,  plays  an  important 


role  in  establishing  friendships,  in  courtship,  and  in  marriage.  But  there 
the  resemblance  to  the  kava  complex  comes  to  an  end. 

As  to  other  aspects  of  the  kava  ceremonial  and  its  associated  practices, 
there  are  many  parallels  elsewhere  and  many  of  these  it  might  be  interest- 
ing to  examine,  but  it  does  not  seem  appropriate  to  do  so  here.  For  example, 
the  attention  paid  to  the  precise  seating  arrangements  has  much  in  common 
with  formalized  gatherings  in  most  societies  that  are  conscious  of  status 
differences,  including  official  dinners  in  Washingon,  D.C.  The  sharing  of 
food  and  drink  as  a  means  of  declaring  a  temporary  truce  or  ensuring 
protection  through  the  establishment  of  a  mutual  bond  has  many  parallels, 
extending  from  "breaking  bread"  to  the  establishment  of  "blood  brother- 
hood." In  its  religious  aspects,  some  of  the  rituals  associated  with  kava 
drinking  have  parallels  that  come  readily  to  mind,  including  certain 
aspects  of  Christian  ritual. 

Although  certain  aspects  of  the  complex  may  be  related  functionally 
to  practices  in  other  parts  of  the  world,  it  is  clear  that  the  kava  ceremony 
and  its  associated  practices  as  known  in  the  South  Pacific  have  become  an 
institution  which  is  unique  in  the  part  it  plays  in  the  life  of  the  people. 

There  still  remains  the  basic  question:  To  what  can  the  all-pervasive 
role  of  kava  be  attributed  ?  Is  it  due  to  the  physiological  effects  of  the  bever- 
age itself?  Are  these  so  powerful  that  they  in  a  sense  demand  recognition 
and  that  from  this  flows  the  development  of  the  involved  social,  political, 
and  ceremonial  practices  which  surround  its  usage?  Are  the  accounts  of 
early  travelers  and  missionaries  to  be  trusted?  If  so,  how  is  their  evidence 
to  be  reconciled  with  our  experiences  ? 

It  has  been  suggested  that  the  accounts  of  the  effects  of  drinking  kava 
are  simply  erroneous  fabrications  by  the  early  missionaries,  which  have 
been  perpetuated  throughout  the  decades  (Churchill  pp.  57-59).  In  this 
connection  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  some  of  the  early  descriptive  phrases 
continue  to  be  repeated  verbatim  in  later  accounts,  usually  without  any 
reference  to  an  earlier  source.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  difficult  to  dismiss 
without  consideration  personal  experiences  reported  by  a  trained  observer, 
such  as  that  related  by  Hocart  (p.  59),  who  writes: 

The  intoxication  caused  by  kava  is  called  mateni,  meaning  death  from  or  illness 
from.  The  expression  mate  ni  ytmggona  is  also  used.  To  recover  is  mbula  (to  live). 
This  intoxication  dulls  the  countenance.  As  I  experienced  it,  it  gives  a  pleasant, 
warm,  and  cheerful,  but  lazy  feeling,  sociable,  though  not  hilarious  or  loquacious; 
the  reason  is  not  obscured.  In  time  a  certain  dullness  settles  on  the  company,  in 
which  the  kava  and  the  late  hour  probably  both  have  a  part.  Once  after  heavy 
drinking  I  felt  miserable  and  found  it  diflScult  to  walk  straight;  on  turning  into 
bed,  I  felt  sick  and  could  not  get  to  sleep.  Such  intoxication  is  rare  because  in  Lau 
the  kava  is  so  diluted  and  served  in  such  small  cups  that  many  rounds  can  be 
drunk  with  impunity.  Habitual  drinkers  are  said  to  become  intoxicated  more  quickly 
than  occasional  ones.  Kava  has  no  unpleasant  reaction  next  morning,  other  than 
indolence  and  lack  of  appetite.  Habitual  drinkers  can  be  noted  by  their  watery  and 
bleary  eyes,  their  dull  skins,  which  in  bad  cases  become  scaly. 

On  the  other  hand  it  will  be  noted  that  the  latter  part  of  his  statement 
carries  the  usual  description  of  the  effects  of  drinking  kava  without  any 
substantiation  from  personal  experience.  His  illness  might  easily  have 


been  from  some  other  cause,  since  he  does  not  indicate  that  on  other 
occasions  he  was  similarly  affected. 

One  matter  which  has  not  been  stressed  but  which  might  conceivably 
be  important  is  that  social  kava  drinking  commonly  takes  place  inside  of 
a  hure,  or  native  house.  The  drinking  may  last  for  hours.  During  this  time 
quantities  of  strong  native  tobacco  are  smoked.  And  if  the  doors  are  closed, 
as  is  the  case  in  relatively  cool  weather,  the  atmosphere  can  become  pretty 
thick  with  smoke.  Several  times  this  happened  to  us  and  the  effects  were 
not  pleasant.  The  atmosphere,  coupled  with  sitting  cross-legged  for  such  a 
long  time,  can  easily  produce  some  unsteadiness  which,  I  suppose,  could  be 
attributed  to  the  drinking  of  kava  if  one  were  predisposed  to  think  so. 

Of  course  it  is  possible  that  the  experiences  we  have  had  are  not  com- 
parable to  those  of  earlier  times.  The  drink  may  have  been  much  stronger 
than  that  which  we  have  been  accustomed  to.  Kava  prepared  by  pre- 
mastication,  which  we  have  never  had,  may,  through  the  action  of  saliva, 
have  quite  different  properties.  However,  those  who  have  drunk  both  re- 
mark merely  that  kava  prepared  by  premastication  is  a  smoother  and  more 
pleasant  drink  than  that  prepared  by  pounding  and  grating. 

With  the  evidence  available,  it  seems  that  early  reports  on  the  phys- 
iological effects  of  kava  drinking  were  greatly  exaggerated.  That  kava 
does  have  some  rather  noticeable  reactions,  including  the  slight  numbing 
of  the  tongue  and  throat,  is  clear,  and  it  is  certain  also  that  a  desire  for 
the  odor,  taste,  and  sensation  provided  by  drinking  kava  can  be  acquired. 
But  this  seems  hardly  sufficient  by  itself  to  account  for  the  part  which  kava 
plays  in  the  socio-political  and  ceremonial  life  of  the  people. 

It  seems  more  likely  that  in  considerable  measure  the  importance  of  kava 
to  the  people  of  western  Polynesia  and  Fiji  is  derived  from  the  part  it 
plays  in  their  life  rather  than  frojm  whatever  physiological  effects  it  may 
have.  Kava  has  become  the  focus  of  importance  in  so  much  of  their  life- 
time activities  that  they  have  come  to  treasure  it  far  more  than  seems 
warranted  by  its  intrinsic  properties.  Kava  drinking  has  become  part  of 
the  traditional  way  of  life.  As  the  Fijian  puts  it  kava  is  vaka  viti — 
Fijian  custom. 


Adams,  Emma  H.  "Jottings  from  the  Pacific.  Life  and  incidents  in  the  Fijian  and 
Samoan  islands."  Oakland,  Pacific  Press  Publishing  Company,  1890. 

Anonymous.  "KAVA  (Cava  or  Ava)."  Encyclopaedia  Britannica  13  :  299.  Chicago, 
Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  Inc.,  1944. 

Buck,  Peter  H.  "Vikings  of  the  sunrise."  New  York,  Frederick  A.  Stokes  Company,  1938. 

Churchill,  William.  "Samoan  kava  custom."  Holmes  Anniversary  Volume,  pp.  56-66. 
Washington,  1916. 

Foster,  Harkt  L.  "A  vagabond  in  Fiji."  New  York,  Dodd,  Mead  and  Company,  1927. 
GoRDON^UMMiNG,  CONSTANCE  Frederica.  "At  homc  in  Fiji."  New  York,  A.  C.  Armstrong 
and  Son,  1882. 

HooART,  Arthur  Maurice.  "Lau  Islands,  Fiji."  Bernice  P.  Bishop  Museum  Bulletin  62. 
Honolulu,  1929. 

Lester,  R.  H.  "Kava  drinking  in  Vitilevu,  Fiji."  Oceania  12  :  97-121,  226-254,  1941-1942. 
Ling  Shun-sheng.  "A  comparative  study  of  kava-drinking  in  the  Pacific  regions  (sum- 
mary)." Bulletin  of  the  Institute  of  Ethnology,  Academia  Sinica  5  :  77-96,  1958. 


Mariner,  William.  "An  account  of  the  natives  of  the  Tonga  Islands,  in  the  South  Pacific 
Ocean."  Compiled  and  arranged  from  the  extensive  communications  of  Mr.  William 
Mariner,  several  years  resident  in  the  islands.  By  John  Martin.  2  vols.  London,  printed 
for  the  author,  1817. 

Patterson,  Samuel.  Narrative  of  the  adventures  and  sufferings  of  Samuel  Patterson. 
Compiled  by  Ezekiel  Terry.  Palmer,  Mass.,  from  the  press  in  Palmer,  1817. 



Chairman — Georg  E.  Cronheim 
Members  of  the  Panel — JOSEPH  P.  Buckley 

Clellan  S.  Ford 
Carleton  Gajdusek 
Lowell  D.  Holmes 
Murle  W.  Klohs 
Hans  J.  Meyer 
Carl  C.  Pfeiffer 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  Perhaps  we  can  start  with  some  of  the  written 
questions.  I  also  want  to  make  it  plain  that  if  any  participant  wants  to  ask 
a  question  of,  please  feel  free  to  do  so. 

Here  is  a  question  that  we  may  direct  to  either  Dr.  Holmes  or  Dr.  Ford, 
or  to  both  of  them,  and  it  reads  as  follows :  "Several  of  the  speakers  have 
stated  that,  while  Kava  drinking  produces  ataxia  and  physical  weakness, 
it  leaves  the  intellect  clear.  Is  there  any  corroboration  for  this  other  than 
introspective  reports?" 

Dr.  Holmes  :  I  might  start  with  this.  I  would  point  out  that  much  of  the 
analysis  of  Kava  drinking  that  I  have  done  has  been  after  the  fact.  In  other 
words,  this  symposium  came  into  view  about  two  and  a  half  years  ago,  and 
by  that  time  I  had  already  made  a  study  of  Kava  drinking.  It  is  one  of  the 
foremost  institutions  found  in  the  area,  and  you  can't  help  but  notice  it  and 
write  down  all  of  the  details,  but  I  don't  have  any  quantitative  data. 

I  do  have  a  few  ideas  that  might  relate  to  this :  For  example,  the  drinking 
of  Kava  by  the  young  men  very  frequently  is  followed  by  very  active  dancing. 
It  is  a  very  energetic  and  physical  sort  of  dancing,  and  if  there  were  any 
problems  with  the  legs  I  doubt  if  they  could  do  it,  because  a  lot  of  time  it 
involves  going  down  very  slowly,  that  is  to  say,  bending  the  knees  very 
slowly  until  they  almost  touch  the  ground,  and  then  raising  up  again.  If 
there  were  any  muscular  problems,  I  doubt  if  they  could  do  this  sort  of 

As  far  as  keeping  the  intellect  clear,  I  can  recall  one  occasion  when  I  Avas  in 
the  islands  by  myself — my  wife  was  on  another  island  teaching  nurses.  I  found 
things  kind  of  boring,  having  nobody  to  talk  to  for  a  portion  of  the  day. 
I  would  have  the  boys  prepare  Kava,  and  I  would  sit  there  and  work  up  my 
notes  and  drink  Kava  constantly. 

I  will  admit  I  didn't  get  up  very  much.  I  was  sitting  there  typing,  but  I 
was  thinking  and  reasoning  out  certain  things  that  I  had  observed,  and  as 
far  as  I  am  concerned,  I  did  not  experience  any  curtailment  of  intellectual 
abilities,  nor  did  I  experience  any  emotional  problems. 

Dr.  Ford:  I  might  just  add  one  observation.  In  Fiji  they  have  meetings 
of  the  men  who  sit  around  and  discuss  what  the  day's  activities  are  going  to 
be,  and  what  their  long  term,  maybe  two  or  three  activities  are  going  to  be, 


such  as  the  building  of  a  house,  going  on  a  fishing  expedition,  or  whatever  it 
might  be.  These  meetings  are  invariably  accompanied  by  a  good  deal  of 
Kava  drinking.  It  seemed  to  me  that  the  Fijians  were  much  sharper  in  their 
decisions  and  thoughts  how  to  proceed  while  they  were  having  Kava,  than 
during  other  casual  conversations. 

I  never  noticed  that  drinking  Kava  made  the  men  dull.  If  it  were  anything 
it  would  be  the  reverse ;  they  would  be  more  aware  of  what  was  going  on  after 
having  had  Kava  than  before. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  Maybe  we  can  turn  to  a  question  on  a  com- 
pletely different  aspect.  Here  is  a  question  directed  to  Dr.  Pf eiffer :  "Will 
you  please  describe  the  effect  of  alcohol  on  the  mean  energy  content  and  coef- 
ficient of  variance,  and  compare  these  effects  with  those  of  Kava  Kava?" 

Dr.  Pfeiffer:  The  effect  of  alcohol  in  a  relatviely  low  dose,  that  of  an 
ounce  and  a  half  of  bourbon,  or  similarly  diluted  laboratory  alcohol,  is  that 
of  an  anti-anxiety  drug,  meaning  a  depression  in  mean  energy  content  and 
an  increase  in  variability. 

I  would  like  to  add  that  in  the  early  days  of  mephenesin  testing  we  had  a 
ten  percent  suspension  of  mephenesin;  this  could  be  ingested  at  about  the 
teaspoonful  level  and  produce  everything  that  has  been  described  as  hap- 
pening with  Kava.  I  wonder  if  there  is  any  emulsifying  agent  in  the  natural 
Kava  that  would  suspend  some  of  the  substances  that  we  consider  not  water 
soluble  but  which  have  a  definite  effect  ? 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  Does  anybody  Avant  to  comment  on  this  last 
question  from  Dr.  Pfeiffer? 

Mr.  Klohs  :  I  would  suspect  in  regard  to  the  compounds  we  worked  with, 
the  d-pyrones,  where  water  solubility  is  negligible,  that  mastication  may 
result  in  a  sort  of  an  emulsion  being  formed  where  the  particles  are  sus- 
pended in  the  water,  and  in  that  way  you  could  get  some  of  the  physiological 
effects.  That  is  the  only  thing  that  I  could  suggest. 

Dr.  Ford  :  The  Kava  is  stirred  before  each  cup  is  provided. 

Mr.  Klohs  :  You  would  get  suspended  material  here. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim:  I  have  a  question  here  for  Dr.  Gajdusek: 
"What  is  the  cargo  cult,"  you  spoke  of  ? 

Dr.  Gajdusek:  Cargo  cults  form  the  subject  of  detailed  studies  by  pro- 
fessional anthropologists  for  each  area  in  New  Guinea  or  the  Islands.  In 
the  particular  cult  on  Tanna,  there  was  a  gradual  disenchantment  of  the 
people  on  the  Island  with  the  European  planters,  and  the  missionary  people. 
There  was  a  turning  back  to  traditional  ceremonies  and  the  traditional  way 
of  life,  with  the  addition  of  many  of  new  features  taken  from  the  missionary 
teaching  but  re- interpreted  in  the  way  the  people  themselves  wanted  to  inter- 
pret them. 

This  was  definitely  associated  with  a  request  that  all  Europeans  leave  the 
Island  and  that  the  Government  not  bother  them.  A  great  deal  of  mythology 
sprang  up  around  it.  There  is  a  whole  French  book  on  it,  published  in  Paris, 
devoted  to  the  cults  and  myths  associated  with  this  movement,  or  "cargocult". 

Kava  came  into  the  matter  in  that  it  became  a  part  of  the  whole  cult.  Women 
and  children  occasionally  drank,  but  all  of  the  adult  males  were  drinking  a 


great  deal  of  Kava  made  from  the  fresh  root.  It  is  only  on  Tanna  that  a  fully 
fledged  cargo  cult  of  that  sort  has  developed  in  the  New  Hebrides. 

Tongariki,  where  the  observations  I  was  reporting  were  made,  is  an  isolated 
island  with  a  very  clannish  community  that  has  never  really  accepted  any 
residents  from  Europe,  British  administrative  people  or  missionaries  on  the 
island.  We  have  good  evidence  that  our  own  sojourn  was  the  first  that  had 
been  spent  overnight. 

Chaieman  Dr.  Cronheim:  One  question  that  I  only  want  to  mention 
because  there  is  apparently  some  misunderstanding,  says :  "Wliat  is  known 
of  the  chemistry  or  pharmacology  of  Kava  Kava  as  distinct  from  Kava?" 
They  are  two  terms  for  the  same  plant  and  the  same  material. 

The  next  question  is  directed  to  Drs.  Meyer,  Pf eiffer  and  Buckley :  "Dr. 
Pfeiffer  dound  dl-dihydromethysticin  effective  for  only  major  sezures.  Dr. 
Meyer,  on  the  other  hand,  found  it  to  behave  like  the  diazopans,  which  are 
more  effective  in  all  but  major  seizures  ?" 

Dr.  Meyer:  I  think  there  must  be  a  mistake  here,  since  I  never  quoted 
on  the  anticonvulsive  effectiveness  of  the  benzodiazepines  which  is  indeed  not 
very  strong,  at  any  rate  much  weaker  than  is  found  with  the  Kava  pyrones. 
What  I  compared,  however,  was  the  muscular  relaxant  activity  of  both  groups 
of  drugs  which  is  produced  likewise  by  a  central,  most  likely  supraspinal 
mechanism  of  action. 

Dr.  Buckley  :  None  of  our  work  has  been  done  on  this  problem,  and  the 
only  finding  we  have  to  corroborate  the  work  of  Dr.  Meyer  is  that  the  water 
soluble  material  that  we  are  working  with  is  a  very  potent  muscle  relaxant. 

Dr.  Pfeiffer  :  If  one  compares  in  animals  the  effect  of  chlordiazepoxide 
against  the  Kava  principles,  the  Kava  has  an  anti-strychnine  effect,  and  the 
chlordiazepoxide  is  barbiturate-like  and  has  an  anti-Metrazol  effect.  One 
can  use  both  of  them  in  epileptic  seizures  since  the  patients  who  are  not  re- 
sponding to  classical  anti-epilepsy  therapy  have  usually  mixed  epilepsy,  and 
one  can  get  a  variety  of  beneficial  effects.  Our  sample  was  at  the  most  twelve 
patients.  In  these  the  predominant  effect  was  a  decrease  of  grand  mal  seizures 
and  no  change  in  their  minor  seizures.  Had  we  had  a  larger  sample,  and  had 
we  done  a  careful  comparison  with  chlordiazepoxide,  we  might  have  found 
different  results. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  Here  is  another  question :  "Why  is  the  char- 
acteristic Easter  Island  wooden  statue  of  a  man  called  Moa  Kava  Kava?" 
Maybe  Dr.  Holmstedt  who  sent  in  this  question  can  provide  also  tlie  answer. 

Dr.  Holmstedt:  No. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  The  next  question,  which  perhaps  can  be  an- 
swered by  our  anthropologist  friends,  who  have  seen  the  effects  of  Kava, 
is  as  follows:  "Are  cola  drinks  adequate  substitutes  for  Kava  insofar  as 
claimed  effects  are  concerned  ? " 

Dr.  Ford  :  I  suppose  that  by  cola  drink  you  mean  soft  drinks  such  as  Coca 
Cola  or  Pepsi  Cola.  All  I  can  say  is  that  in  my  experience  with  the  Fiji 
people,  men  particularly,  would  rather  drink  Kava  than  either  a  soft  drink, 
such  as  the  colas,  or  beer.  That  does  not  mean  to  say  that  they  won't  drink 
cola,  but  I  am  quite  certain  that  there  is  a  distinct  preference  for  Kava,  and 


had  if  they  had  to  choose  one  as  opposed  to  the  other,  they  would  take  their 
own  native  drink. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim  :  The  next  question  is  to  anyone  on  the  panel : 
"Is  there  any  specific  therapeutic  use  of  Kava  by  natives,  or  does  any  occur 
to  you?"  This  can  be  answered  by  anyone  on  the  panel.  (No  answer  was 

Dr.  Pfeiffer  :  I  have  a  question,  and  that  is,  since  griseof ulvin  is  fungi- 
cidal and  deposits  in  the  skin,  I  think  it  would  be  of  interest  to  determine 
if  there  is  any  fungicidal  effect  of  any  of  these  Kava  principles,  because 
we  know  in  this  particular  area  of  the  world  "jungle  rot"  or  fungal  infections 
are  very  common,  so  that  the  incidence  of  fungal  infections  might  be  less 
in  the  male  than  in  the  female. 

I  have  already  brought  up  the  question  of  whether  or  not  it  is  a  pain  killing 
drug  and  the  consensus  seems  to  be  that  it  is  not  a  pain  killing  drug  in  general. 

Dr.  Holmes  :  I  did  mention  this  morning  that  it  is  often  taken  to  relieve 
the  chills  of  filariasis,  but  other  than  that  I  know  of  no  claims  for  Kava  as 
a  therapeutic  drug. 

Dr.  Buckley  :  I  can  mention  that  the  preliminary  data  that  we  have  on 
the  aqueous  subfraction  F-1  of  Kava,  indicated  by  the  pharmacologic  pro- 
files, would  suggest  that  if  we  are  ever  able  to  isolate  the  active  constituent 
that  it  has  potential  tranquilizing  activity,  if  it  is  effective  orally. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim:  The  next  question  is  directed  to  Dr.  Meyer 
and  Dr.  Buckley :  "Since  Kava  ingestion  causes  a  soporific  effect,  coupled 
with  loss  of  muscle  tone,  have  any  studies  been  carried  out  relating  the 
active  principles  of  Kava  to  the  physiological  mechanisms  of  sleep  in  general, 
and  to  REM-sleep  in  particular  ?" 

Dr.  Buckley:  I  will  introduce  the  subject.  Data  that  we  have  obtained 
indicate  that  in  the  dosages  used  we  get  a  very  marked  sedative  effect,  but  not 
an  effect  as  far  as  inducing  sleep.  These  animals  are  very  alert,  and  it  appears 
that  the  reaction  is  at  the  subcortical  level  rather  than  the  cortex.  It  is  only 
when  we  get  up  to  the  higher  doses  that  we  get  a  true  effect  on  the  spinal  cord 
and  on  the  cerebral  cortex. 

Dr.  Meyer  :  One  of  the  most  striking  manifestations  during  sleep  revealed 
by  electrophysiological  recording  is  the  reduction  in  the  activity  of  skeletal 
muscles.  In  our  experiments  with  Kava  constituents  of  the  pyrone  group, 
we  found  a  decrease  of  the  tonic  properties  of  the  alpha  motoneurones, 
followed  by  a  loss  of  muscle  tone  which  may  resemble  in  some  respect  the 
reduced  muscular  activity  observed  in  sleep. 

On  the  other  hand,  there  is  no  effect,  no  depressing  effect,  on  the  arousal 
response  of  the  cerebral  cortex  elicited  by  electrical  stimulation  of  the  mid- 
brain reticular  formation,  which  is  in  contrast  to  the  depressant  action  of  the 
barbiturates  on  this  system.  We  think  that  this  is  an  appreciable  difference 
between  hypnotics  and  soporific  agents  like  the  Kava  pyrones,  the  action  of 
which  are  apparently  more  related  to  the  physiological  mechanisms  of  sleep. 
Moreover,  animals  put  into  sleep  by  Kava  pyrones,  easily  can  be  aroused  at 
any  time  of  drug  action. 


Investigations  with  pyrones  related  to  KEM-sleep  have  not  been  carried 
out  so  far. 

Chairman  Dk.  Ceonheim  :  I  have  a  question  here  to  Dr.  Ford  and  the 
rest  of  the  panel:  "Would  you  please  expand  on  the  comment  you  made 
concerning  possible  enhancement  of  mental  ability.  Do  any  of  the  members 
have  anything  to  add  on  this  subject  ?" 

Dr.  Ford  :  Well,  all  I  can  say  is  what  I  said  before,  and  this  is,  of  course, 
very  tenuous  judgment;  but  it  did  seem  to  me  that  the  Fijians  were  just  as 
alert,  if  not  more  alert,  while  they  were  drinking  Kava,  than  when  they  were 

It  may  be  that  other  aspects  of  the  situation  account  for  part  of  this.  For 
example,  decision-making  and  considering  future  plans  of  the  villagers  might 
help  to  provide  this  alertness  rather  than  the  Kava  itself. 

From  my  own  experience,  and  here  again  I  think  there  might  be  individual 
differences,  I  never  felt  that  Kava  affected  my  thinking.  Our  youngest  son, 
who  was  twenty-three  years  old  at  the  time,  came  and  spent  two  months  with 
us  in  Naviti.  The  young  men  of  the  village  sort  of  challenged  him  to  Kava 
drinking  bouts,  much  as  beer  drinking  bouts  might  take  place  among  such 
young  people  here.  He  claims  that  during  the  first  half  hour  of  such  a  drinking 
bout,  during  which  he  consumed  maybe  a  quart  or  so  of  this  diluted  Kava, 
he  became  quite  drowsy  and  sleepy,  but  that  after  this  period  passed  he  was 
well  alert  and  wide  awake  enough  to  actually  speak  Fijian  better  than  he 
felt  he  had  normally  been  able  to  do. 

Dr.  Gajdusek:  I  just  never  felt  this  drowsy  feeling,  and  I  don't  know 
what  the  answers  to  this  might  be.  The  Tongarikans  obviously  are  not 
drinking  Kava  socially.  Often  they  are  drinking  alone.  They  are  anxious  to 
get  the  expected  effect,  and  therefore  having  taken  a  large  dose  and  eaten, 
and  if  they  are  not  getting  the  effect,  they  often  go  back  and  have  their  boys 
chew  more.  They  are  subjectively  evaluating  what  is  happening;  and  if  a 
sufficient  reaction  is  not  observed  within  the  first  half  hour,  they  drink  more ; 
they  raise  the  dose. 

Those  who  are  obviously  casual  drinkers,  like  myself,  are  likely  to  get  a 
half  portion,  they  are  a  little  stingy  about  the  Kava,  they  don't  want  to  waste 
it  on  those  who  don't  enjoy  it,  and  with  that  half  dose  I  could  leave  the  area, 
go  back  to  whatever  work  I  was  going  to  do  that  evening  without  any  notice- 
able subjective  impairment;  and  my  colleagues  do  the  same. 

Wlien  one  pushes  the  point  and  tries  several  doses  one  does  get  an  effect. 
It  is  the  effect  I  described :  there  is  a  market  paresthesia  of  the  lower  ex- 
tremities, numbness  and  cooling.  It  is  not  real  anesthesia ;  you  can  still  feel 
sensations  with  the  extremities. 

The  men  describe  the  same  effect  and  they  don't  want  to  be  disturbed  as 
they  subjectively  observe  it.  They  like  the  feeling  and  they  refer  particularly 
to  numbness  of  their  lower  extremity  up  to  the  waist.  They  claim,  and  we 
find  this  to  certainly  be  the  case,  that  when  one  takes  enough  and  tries  to 
get  up,  one  falls  on  one's  face.  They  still  have  reflexes  at  this  stage  as  I  looked 
at  them,  but  there  are  plenty  of  men  who  leave  for  home  at  too  early  a  stage. 


and  need  assistance  to  go  home.  They  fall  off  the  trail,  but  these  are  people 
who  are  concerned  about  their  Kava  and  are  drinking  plenty  of  it. 

Two  other  items  which  I  think  pharmacologically  ought  to  be  kept  in 
mind.  There  is  a  great  deal  of  concern  whose  Kava  one  is  using,  what  garden 
plot  it  comes  from,  whether  it  is  too  dry,  or  if  it  is  grown  in  the  wrong  soil 
or  in  the  wrong  place.  I  wonder  whether  one  may  not  have  a  variety,  depend- 
ing on  growth  and  hvdration  of  the  roots. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim:  I  have  a  short  question  to  Dr.  Pfeiffer,  and 
then  one  to  the  panel.  The  question  to  Dr.  Pfeiffer  is:  "How  would  one 
reconcile  the  arousal  or  excessive  cerebral  activity  of  schizophrenics  with 
the  apparent  decrease  of  synaptic  transmission  shown  in  the  cat?" 

Dr.  Pfeiffer:  This  represents  two  different  test  preparations,  one  the 
pentobarbitalized  cat  as  a  model  on  which  to  test  hallucinogenic  drugs.  The 
other  represents  the  natural  state  of  psychosis  in  unanaesthetized  patients. 
There  is  such  a  world  of  difference  that  I  don't  think  one  can  compare  the 
two,  except  in  an  average  overall  sample  of  brain  wave  activity.  The  brain 
wave  of  the  schizophrenics  are  those  of  an  over  aroused  or  hyper- regulated 

In  regard  to  the  previous  question  on  performance  under  Kava,  which 
asked  if  the  mind  was  more  clear,  we  know  of  many  colleagues  who  are 
constantly  over-stimulated  and  do  their  best  when  they  have  a  sedative 
in  them,  whether  it  be  meprobamate,  chlordiazepoxide,  or  bourbon.  I  know 
one  very  fine  author  who  can  only  write  a  book  consuming  a  case  of  bourbon 
a  week.  It  is  a  very  fine  book  and  this  is  the  way  the  man  works;  he  is 
productive  on  whiskey  but  not  otherwise  productive. 

Chairman  Dr.  Cronheim:  I  have  two  more  questions,  both  pertaining 
to  the  same  subject,  and  I  am  going  to  read  them  and  will  add  to  these 
questions  one  additional  point,  and  then  we  will  have  to  stop  this  discussion 
because  of  the  time  factor. 

One  question  reads :  "Will  one  of  the  speakers  trace  the  introduction  and 
migration  of  the  beverage  throughout  the  Pacific?  Is  it  used  throughout 
the  range  of  the  plant?  What  cultural  modification  of  the  natural  range 
took  place  in  the  Pacific  ?" 

The  other  question  reads :  "Dr.  Ford  mentioned  parallel  distribution  and 
use  of  Betel  and  Kava,  but  cited  as  an  example  that  in  Tikopia,  Betel  was 
chewed,  whereas  Kava  was  poured  on  the  ground.  Parallel  distribution  of 
plants  occurs  in  Micronesia,  but  usage  is  not  parallel.  Would  Dr.  Holmes 
care  to  comment  on  this?"  I  think  in  line  with  this,  perhaps  the  most 
important,  the  most  interesting  question  is  a  kind  of  summing-up  question, 
namely : 

We  have  heard  from  Dr.  Gajdusek  some  very  definite  experiences  of  Kava 
effects  that  he  has  observed  both  on  himself,  on  his  associates,  and  also  on 
the  natives  in  the  Islands  where  he  worked.  We  have  heard  from  Dr.  Ford 
and  Dr.  Holmes  that  they  did  not  see  such  effects  or  did  not  experience 
them  on  themselves ;  and  so  to  relate  it  to  the  questions  I  just  read  to  you, 
can  the  three  of  you  in  some  way  point  out  the  differences,  either  in  the 
time  of  the  year  or  the  type  of  the  plant  ?  Is  it  really  botanically  the  same 


plant,  or  are  there  other  differences,  conceivably  other  than  the  question 
of  dosage  that  Dr.  Ford  already  mentioned?  Could  you  explain  this  very 
apparent  dichotomy  ? 

Dk.  Holmes:  I  would  like  to  answer  that  last  question,  because  I  would 
hate  to  try  and  trace  the  distribution  in  the  short  time  we  have.  We  did 
attempt  to  do  a  bit  of  this  in  our  papers.  But  there  are  a  couple  of  things 
I  would  like  to  say  about  this  last  question:  I  think  we  ought  to  resolve 
these  problems,  or  at  least  attempt  to  do  so.  I  would  think  that  part  of 
the  answer  might  rest  in  the  amounts,  or  concentration.  The  Kava  ceremony 
that  you  observed  in  my  film  involved  about  as  much  Kava  as  would  fill 
my  hand  level.  I  have  no  measurements  of  this.  It  is  a  very  rough  estimate. 
This  would  be  placed  in  a  fairly  large  bowl  about  sixteen  inches  across. 
I  imagine  there  would  be  close  to  a  gallon  of  water  in  there,  because  some- 
times as  many  as  thirty  Chiefs  will  be  served  a  cup  of  Kava,  and  the  cup 
is  pretty  good  sized.  It  might  be  that  it  is  much  more  diluted  in  some  places 
than  in  others. 

There  is  the  possibility  of  the  saliva  factor,  and  I  might  comment  on  this. 
The  Kava  that  I  have  seen  drunk  and  have  drunk  myself  was  not  chewed 
and  therefore  did  not  involve  saliva.  I  did  not  mention  this  in  my  talk  this 
morning,  but  formerly  Kava  was  prepared  by  chewing  in  Samoa  also.  How- 
ever, all  of  my  informants  told  me  that  the  Kava  chewers  were  trained  not 
to  get  saliva  on  the  Kava.  I  don't  know  how  you  do  this,  but  the  attempt 
was  made  not  to  get  a  big,  messy  cud  and  to  keep  the  Kava  as  dry  as  possible. 
Apparently,  at  least  according  to  my  informants,  the  attempt  was  made  not 
to  get  too  much  saliva  in  the  mixture. 

Dr.  Ford:  A  relatively  amusing  thing  happened  back  ui  the  early 
1860's.  The  missionaries  got  disturbed  about  the  fact  that  in  parts  of  Fiji, 
particularly  along  the  coast,  they  chewed  the  Kava  root  in  preparation,  and 
one  fellow  thought  he  had  clinched  things.  What  he  did  was  to  weigh  pieces 
of  Kava  root  before  they  were  chewed  and  then  swipe  them  from  the 
chewer  before  he  packed  them  back  into  the  bowl;  and  from  six  ounces 
of  Kava  root,  it  increased  to  seventeen  ounces  after  having  been  chewed. 
This  was  used  as  a  stock  example  by  everybody  to  justify  stamping  out  this 
horrible,  detestable  habit  of  pre-masticating  Kava.  I  have  never  tasted  Kava 
that  has  been  pre-masticated  and  this  would  seem  to  be  one  variable. 

Another  is  the  variable  of  the  green  versus  the  dry  root. 

Another  is  the  variable  of  maybe  different  varieties  in  different  soils,  and 
the  final  one  is  obviously  the  tremendous  difference  in  the  amount  of 

Dr.  Gajdusek:  The  dosage  matter  is  very  important.  The  quantity  of 
Kava  you  are  describing  is  less  than  is  used  in  Tongariki  for  one  man,  let 
alone  for  thirty  Chiefs.  A  large  quantity  sufficient  for  six  young  men  is 
made,  and  I  suspect  this  amount  of  root  is  more  than  you  are  using  for 
your  whole  ceremony.  This  is  one  person's  production. 

From  the  Floor:  Did  the  chewers  get  a  KaA^a  effect? 

Dr.  Gajdttsek  :  The  yomig  men  that  are  chewing  the  Kava  have  a  thor- 
oughly anaesthetized  mouth.  They  claim  that  they  cannot  taste  anything  for 


the  rest  of  the  evening.  They  also  have  a  stiff  mouth  and  claim  they  have 
difficulty  in  articulating. 

Dr.  Leake  :  We  should  always  remember  that  the  active  principles  in  any 
plant  vary  enormously  with  respect  to  the  soils  in  which  they  may  grow. 
This  is  well  known  with  nicotine  and  tobacco,  or  ephedrine.  This  may  be  a 
factor  in  the  variation  in  Kava,  since  the  soils  in  those  areas  do  vary  greatly. 

Dr.  Holder  (from  the  floor)  :  I  am  an  anthropologist  from  the  Univer- 
sity of  Nebraska.  In  1943  on  the  Northern  New  Hebrides  Islands,  I  drank 
Kava  and  helped  prepare  it,  and  in  Dr.  Gajdusek's  comments  and  other 
comments  this  might  be  worthwhile.  The  Kava  was  dried  and  smoked  in 
the  roof  timbers,  and  the  preparation  Avas  made  by  taking  a  piece  about 
twice  as  large  as  your  thumb  and  chewing  it  for  about  three  to  four  minutes. 
The  natives  themselves  said  it  was  necessary  to  get  the  saliva  in  to  release 
the  active  principle. 

I  had  been  chosen  as  a  chewer  and  did  chew  on  many  occasions,  and  I  got 
anaesthetized  tongue  and  the  inner  lining  of  my  mouth  was  anaesthetized. 
This  chewed  mass  was  mixed  with  water  in  cocoanut  cups  and  from  four  to 
five  people  drank;  and  it  was  chewed  again.  There  was  a  marked  diuretic 
effect;  everybody  had  to  leave  about  every  twenty  minutes,  as  in  drinking 
beer.  This  was  social,  but  the  total  effect  was  to  loosen  tongues  and  to  talk 
far  into  the  night,  and  no  hangover  the  next  day.  There  was  absolutely  none 
of  this  depression,  and  here  again,  these  were  small  doses. 

This  was  on  the  Island  of  Espiritu  Santo  on  the  southern  slope  of  Mount 
Santo,  at  a  village  called  Batuito  at  about  five  thousand  feet,  and  they  told 
me  that  in  the  past  Kava  had  been  used  as  part  of  the  sexual  ceremony, 
which  was  jDOured  over  a  stone  phallus  prior  to  being  mixed  and  drunk. 

Dr.  Gajdtjsek  :  Jean  Guiart,  our  colleague  who  worked  both  in  Santo 
and  Malakoa,  never  himself  experienced  any  reaction  from  the  Kavas  on 

Chairman  Dr.  CronhEiIm::  We  have  already  exceeded  by  ten  minutes 
the  time  allotted  to  us,  so  it  is  witli  great  regret  that  I  have  to  close  the 

I  want  to  thank  all  the  participants  for  a  most  enlightening  and  most 
stimulating  panel. 




Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr.,  Chairman 

Chairman's  Introduction 

Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 

Battelle  Memorial  Institute,  Columbus,  Ohio 

In  this  introduction,  I  would  like  to  formulate  several  questions  which  I 
believe  are  crucial  for  this  section  of  the  program.  The  presentations  to  fol- 
low will  likely  answer  very  few  of  these  questions.  Rather,  I  think,  the  juxta- 
position of  these  questions  with  the  scanty  information  so  far  collected  about 
the  physical  and  physiological  actions  of  nutmeg  will  emphasize  the  real 
need  for  further  research  into  the  dietary,  ritualistic,  and  drug-seeking  habits 
of  man  with  this  spice,  and  their  possible  significance. 

The  uppermost  question  that  plagues  the  conscious  of  an  investigator  in 
this  field  is  whether,  by  discussing  publicly  a  substance  with  a  potential  for 
abuse  by  the  lay  public,  he  is  inadvertently  opening  another  Pandora's  box 
of  human  ills.  One  answer  to  this  question,  in  the  case  of  nutmeg,  appears 
to  be  that  this  substance  has  enough  unpleasant  effects  mixed  with  its  cen- 
trally stimulating  actions  to  discourage  misuse  by  any  but  the  most  reckless 
psychodelic  adventurers.  This  will  certainly  be  borne  out  by  the  reports  to 
follow  about  the  toxic  effects  of  human  overdose  by  ground  nutmeg  in  the 
crude  drug  form.  Whether  the  same  will  be  true  of  myristicin  or  other  active 
components  of  the  volatile  fraction  will  need  to  be  learned,  because  experi- 
ence with  the  purified  products  is  quite  meager.  A  lesson  from  LSD  should 
be  applied  here,  so  that  the  human  risks  of  nutmeg  derivatives,  mental  as 
well  as  organic,  will  be  carefully  evaluated  by  clinical  pharmacologists  in 
anticipation  of  the  possibility  of  widespread  misuse. 

A  second  question  might  appraise  the  need  for  further  investigation  on 
a  substance  which  appears  to  be  another  stimulant  to  a  central  adrenergic 
receptor  already  affected  by  mescaline,  cocaine,  the  amphetamines,  epine- 
phrine, adrenochrome,  and  possibly  by  LSD  and  other  tryptamine-like 
hallucinogens.  An  answer  to  this  question  certainly  lies  in  the  importance 
of  the  study  of  structure  and  activity  variations.  Pharmacologists  and  medi- 
cinal chemists  are  strong  advocates  of  the  advisibility  of  characterizing  drug 
activity  in  terms  of  the  effects  of  structural  changes  in  the  molecule.  Thus, 
we  should  look  in  the  session  to  follow  for  those  clues  to  variation  in  the 
central  activity  produced  by  myristicin,  which  has  a  slightly  different  for- 
mula from  mescaline,  as  shown  in  Figure  1. 

Myristicin  is  unique  among  psychotropic  agents  in  that  it  lacks  a  nitrogen 
atom.  This  unusual  characteristic  has  led  Dr.  Shulgin  to  propose  an  inter- 
esting hypothetical  mechanism  for  its  action  which  I  am  sure  he  will  find 
time  to  discuss. 

Another  question  which  can  be  asked  is  how  the  information  to  be  presented 
here  on  nutmeg  and  myristicin  can  be  helpful  to  a  better  understanding  of  the 
workings  of  the  mind.  Since  a  partial  answer  to  the  previous  question  ap- 
pears to  be  that  nutmeg  intoxication  is  in  some  ways  different  from  mescaline 

262-016  0-67— 14 


Mjrristicin  (5-allyl-2,3  methylenedioxyphenylmethyl  ether  or 


0— <^  ^^CH;CH=CHi 

I  I 

Mescaline  (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenylethylaniine) 


CH3O— <  >— CHjCHi— NH2 



FiGUKE  1. — Structural  formulas  of  myristicin  and  mescaline. 

and  similar  drugs,  how  does  this  difference  contribute  to  better  understand- 
ing ?  What  is  the  relationship  between  the  central  feelings  of  anxiety,  detach- 
ment, and  excitation  with  somatic  effects  such  as  tachycardia,  xerostomia, 
hypothermia,  vasomotor  lability,  pupillary  changes,  and  heaviness  of  the 
limbs  ?  The  marked  degree  and  variety  of  peripheral  effects  prompts  the  ques- 
tion as  to  how  much  of  the  psychic  action  is  attributable  to  the  centripetal 

From  a  therapeutic  viewpoint,  one  might  ask  whether  some  aspect  of  the 
syndrome  induced  by  nutmeg  might  have  a  therapeutic  application.  This  is, 
indeed,  the  most  central  question  to  the  purposes  of  this  conference.  How- 
ever, this  goal  has  not  yet  been  achieved  for  any  of  the  drugs  presently 
labeled  as  hallucinogens.  Another  useful  advantage  of  this  discussion  could 
be  the  recognition  of  a  means  of  treating  nutmeg  intoxication  which  occurs, 
although  infrequently,  and  may  be  expected  to  increase. 

The  program  to  follow  cannot  begin  to  treat  all  aspects  of  nutmeg 
because  extensive  communication  with  other  scientists  and  reviews  of  the 
scattered  literature  did  not  lead  to  the  finding  of  experts  on  the  anthropogical 
and  other  facets  of  the  spice.  It  is  perhaps  appropriate  that  a  pharmacologist, 
such  as  myself,  inherited  the  chairmanship  of  this  section.  The  reason  for 
this  is  that  three  of  the  major  early  investigators,  Arthur  Cushny,  Sir  Henry 
Dale  and  George  Wallace  were  all  pharmacologists,  and  venerable  ones  also. 

The  first  speaker,  Mr.  Andrew  T.  Weil,  has  produced  perhaps  the  most 
detailed  review  of  the  nutmeg  literature  while  essaying  his  honors  thesis 
in  botany.  (1)  Following  this  introductory  review.  Dr.  Alexander  T.  Shulgin 
will  describe  research  which  already  has  put  into  practice  one  of  the  objec- 
tives of  this  conference.  Dr.  Shulgin  and  his  associates  have  used  the  em- 
pirical observations  of  psychopharmacological  activity  in  nutmeg  and 
mescaline  as  a  starting  basis  for  the  synthesis  and  testing  of  newer,  more 
active  and  varied  psycho-active  drugs.  Dr.  Shulgin  has  also  surpassed  every- 
one for  continued  interest  and  publications  on  myristicin  {2-9).  My  OAvn 
interest  in  the  action  of  nutmeg  emerged  from  Dr.  John  C.  Krantz's  scientific 
curiosity  in  response  to  several  cases  of  nutmeg  poisoning  referred  to  him 
by  graduates  of  the  University  of  Maryland  Medical  School.  {10)  It  was 


also  continued  by  the  then-growing  importance  of  norepinephrine  and  5- 
hydroxytamine  in  brain  function.  {11)  The  last  speaker,  Dr.  Enoch  Calla- 
way, III,  is  an  authority  on  nutmeg  by  reason  of  personal  experience  as  well 
as  having  conducted  clinical  experimentation  with  a  purified  myristicin- 
containing  fraction  of  oil  of  nutmeg.  {10)  I  believe  that  his  experience 
with  the  drug,  if  widely  known,  should  certainly  dissuade  public  abuse  of 


(1)  Weil,  A.  T.  "Nutmeg  as  a  Narcotic."  Economic  Botany,  19 : 194, 1965. 

(2)  Shulgin,  a.  T.,  S.  Bunnell,  and  T.  Sargent,  III.  "The  Psychotomimetic  Prop- 

erties of  3,  4,  5-Trimethoxyamphetamines."  Nature  (Lond.),  189:  1011,  1961. 

(3)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "Composition  of  the  Myristicin  Fraction  from  Oil  of  Nutmeg." 

Nature  (Lond.),  197  :  379, 1963. 
(Jf)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "Psychotomimetic  Agents  Related  to  Mescaline."  Experientia,  19: 
127,  1963. 

(5)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "Concerning  the  Pharmacology  of  Nutmeg."  Mind,  1:  299,  1963. 

(6)  Shulgin,  A.  T.,  and  H.  O.  Kerlinger.  "Isolation  of  Methoxyeugenol  and  Trans- 

I'soelemicin  from  Oil  of  Nutmeg."  Naturwissenschaften,  15  :  360,  1964. 

(7)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "3-Methoxy-4,5-Methylenedioxyamphetamine,  A  New  Psychotomi- 

metic Agent."  Nature,  201 : 1120, 1964. 

(8)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "Psychotomimetic  Amphetamines:  Methoxy-3,4-Dialkoxy  Amphet- 

amines." Experientia,  20  :  366, 1964. 

(9)  Shulgin,  A.  T.  "Possible  Implication  of  Myristicin  as  a  Psychotropic  Substance." 

Nature  (Lond. ) ,  210 :  380, 1966. 
(JO)  Truitt,  E.  B.,  Jr..  E.  Callaway,  III,  M.  C.  Braude,  and  J.  C.  Krantz,  Jr.  "The 

Pharmacology  of  Myristicin.  A  Contribution  to  the  Psychopharmacology  of 

Nutmeg."  Journal  of  Neuropsychiatry,  2 :  205, 1961. 
(11)  Truitt,  E.  B.,  Jr.,  G.  Duritz,  and  E.  M.  Ebersberger.  "Evidence  of  Monoamine 

Oxidase  Inhibition  by  Myristicin  and  Nutmeg."  Proceedings  of  the  Society  for 

Experimental  Biology  and  Medicine,  112  :  647, 1963. 


Nutmeg  as  a  Psychoactive  Drug 

Andrew  T.  Weil 

Harvard  Medical  School,  Boston,  Massachusetts 

Clearly,  nutmeg  is  unique  among  the  less  familiar  psychoactive  drugs.  It 
is  the  only  one  widely  known  to  millions  of  persons  in  all  countries — albeit 
for  other-than-pharmacological  purposes.  It  is  also  the  only  one  whose  use 
as  a  drug  may  be  on  the  verge  of  an  enormous  increase.  The  aim  of  this  paper 
is  to  review  the  botany,  history,  and  commerce  of  nutmeg  as  well  as  to  describe 
the  ways  it  is  used  for  effects  on  consciousness. 

Two  spices — nutmeg  and  mace — come  from  the  nutmeg  tree,  Myristica 
fragrans  (family  Myristicaceae) ,  a  handsome  tropical  tree  native  to  the 
Banda  Islands  and  other  islands  of  the  East  Indian  archipelago.  The  genus 
Myristica  comprises  about  100  species  found  throughout  the  torrid  zone, 
especially  in  the  Malayan  region;  but  of  these  M.  fragrans  alone  contains 
enough  of  an  aromatic  essential  oil  to  make  it  worthy  of  cultivation.  Usually 
30  or  40  feet  tall,  the  nutmeg  tree  has  a  dark  gray  bark,  spreading  branches, 
and  alternate,  oblong-ovate  leaves  that  are  four  inches  long,  leathery,  and 
glossy  green.  Normally,  the  species  is  dioecious.  Flowers,  male  and  female, 
look  like  those  of  the  lily-of-the-  valley ;  they  are  pale  yellow,  fleshy,  and  have 
a  strong  scent  of  nutmeg.  The  fruit  is  a  pendulous,  fleshy  drupe  resembling  an 
apricot  {1,2,3). 

When  ripe,  the  fleshy  husk,  or  pericarp,  of  this  fruit  splits  open  into  two 
halves,  revealing  a  shiny  brown  seedcoat,  or  testa.  Inside  this  shell  is  the  seed, 
which  is  the  nutmeg  of  commerce.  Outside  the  shell,  closely  enwrapping  it, 
is  a  bright  crimson  network,  or  arillus,  which  is  the  mace.  In  preparing  the 
spices  for  export,  fieldworkers  first  remove  the  pit  with  its  mace  from  the 
husk.  The  aril  is  then  carefully  peeled  away  from  the  seedcoat.  Fresh  arils 
are  brilliant  red  and  leathery  with  a  strong  flavor  of  turpentine.  The  mace 
may  be  kept  in  one  piece  (called  "double  blade"  in  the  trade)  or  separated 
into  two  halves  ("single  blade")  before  it  is  flattened  by  hand  or  between 
boards.  It  is  then  dried  thorouglily  in  the  sun  or  by  artificial  heat;  during 
this  process  it  gradually  turns  orange,  then  orange-yellow  and  acquires  its 
characteristic  aroma  (3, 4-)  • 

The  nutmegs,  still  in  their  shells,  are  also  dried,  frequently  over  a  smoulder- 
ing fire.  "Wlien  completely  dry,  the  seed  rattles  in  the  testa.  Usually  the  shells 
are  then  cracked  by  machine  or  with  wooden  mallets  and  the  seeds  are  re- 
moved for  export.  Sometimes,  shelled  nutmegs  are  treated  with  lime  before 
shipping  to  protect  them  from  insects.  They  are  then  sorted  by  size  and 
packed.  For  the  spice  trade,  nutmegs  are  valued  according  to  size,  smoothness, 
and  freedom  from  adulteration  with  wild  seeds  {2,4-)- 

The  nutmeg  tree  requires  a  hot,  humid  climate.  It  is  widely  cultivated  in  the 
tropics,  particularly  on  the  Spice  Islands  (the  Moluccas,  an  island  group  of 
eastern  Indonesia),  on  Penang  and  other  islands  of  Malaysia,  and  in  the 


Caribbean,  notably  on  Grenada.  The  tree  is  slow-growing,  taking  15  years  to 
produce  full  yields.  A  good  specimen  produces  1,500-2,000  nuts  annually — a 
weight  of  ten  pounds  of  nutmeg  to  one-half  pound  of  mace.  The  finest  mace 
and  the  finest  nutmegs  come  from  Penang;  because  of  their  higher  content  of 
volatile  oil,  the  East  Indian  spices  are  preferred  to  the  West  Indian  (4.) . 

Products  of  M.  Fragrans 

Nutmeg  HusJcs:  The  pericarp  of  the  nutmeg  fruit  may  be  preserved  in 
sugar,  salted  and  dried  as  a  condiment,  or  made  into  jellies.  All  of  these  prepa- 
rations have  the  flavor  of  nutmeg  and  all  are  reported  to  be  delicious.  But  they 
are  unknown  outside  the  regions  in  which  the  tree  is  grown  {2,3). 

Nutmeg:  Whole  nutmegs  are  oval  and  woody  with  a  ridged  or  wrinkled, 
light  brown  surface.  Most  are  about  an  inch  long,  three-quarters  of  an  inch 
in  diameter.  On  cross  section  they  show  a  heavy  network  of  dark  brown 
"veins."  Ground  nutmeg,  the  familiar  kitchen  spice  is  a  granular,  orange- 
brown  powder  with  characteristic  aroma. 

Depending  on  the  variety,  whole  nutmeg  contains  from  5  to  15  per  cent  of 
a  volatile  oil  that  accounts  entirely  for  the  aroma  and  flavor  of  the  spice. 
Ground  nutmeg  is  subject  to  rather  rapid  losses  of  this  component.  In  addi- 
tion, dried  nutmeg  contains  25  to  40  per  cent  of  fixed  oil  and  5  to  15  per  cent 
ashes.  The  remainder  is  moisture,  fiber,  and  starch  {5).  In  the  calendar  year 
1965,  the  United  States  imported  nearly  5,300,000  pounds  of  nutmeg  worth 
about  $3,800,000.  Of  this  total,  nearly  72  per  cent  came  from  Indonesia,  while 
24  per  cent  came  from  the  Caribbean,  with  the  remainder  from  a  number  of 
smaller  ports.  Imports  over  the  past  ten  years  have  been  fairly  constant 
(Table  I),  but  there  has  been  a  change  in  the  major  source  of  this  spice. 
Until  1955,  the  U.S.  obtained  about  half  of  its  annual  supply  of  both  nutmeg 
and  mace  from  the  West  Indies.  In  that  year,  however,  a  hurricane  devastated 
the  island  of  Grenada,  and  the  nutmeg  groves  there  have  still  not  recovered 
from  the  damage  {6). 

Mace:  Mace,  another  popular  spice,  is  a  brownish-yellow  or  brownish- 
orange  granular  powder  with  a  strong  aroma  closely  resembling  that  of  nut- 
meg. The  flavor  of  mace  is  somewhat  less  sweet  and  less  delicate  than  the 
flavor  of  nutmeg.  Whole  mace  contains  from  4  to  14  percent  of  a  volatile  oil 
very  similar  to  that  found  in  nutmeg,  along  with  moisture,  fat,  starch,  etc. 

Table  I. — U.S.  imports  of  nutmeg  and  mace* 











4,  852,  221 

4,  141,  074 

4,  151,  480 

5,  124,  638 

3,  505,  450 

5,  271,  524 


658,  193 

549,  072 

563,  874 

558,  541 

648,  900 

619,  394 

*Source:  U.S.  Department  of  Commerce,  Bureau  of  the  Census  Compilation  by  American  Spice  Trade  Association. 


{5;  7,  Vol  V) .  In  1965,  the  United  States  imported  619,000  pounds  of  mace 
worth  S750.000.  Seventy-six  percent  came  from  Indonesia,  the  rest  from 
Malaysia,  Hong  Kong,  Japan,  and  the  Caribbean.  As  with  nutmeg,  imports 
of  mace  have  not  varied  much  over  the  past  ten  years  (Table  I) . 

Uses  of  Nutmeg  and  Mace:  Both  spices  are  classified  as  "baking  spices" 
since  they  are  much  used  in  foods  like  doughnuts  and  other  sweet  doughs. 
Both  have  a  warm,  aromatic,  slightly  bitter  taste.  Xutmeg  is  commonly 
added  to  custards,  puddings,  pies,  and  eggnog.  Mace  is  used  in  soups,  sauces, 
and  pastries,  particularly  pound  cake.  In  addition,  both  spices  are  important 
ingredients  of  frankfurters  and  other  meat  products,  pickles,  tomato  ketchup, 
and  similar  condiments.  The  American  Spice  Trade  Association  estimates 
that  55  percent  of  nutmeg  and  mace  imported  into  this  country  is  sold 
through  retail  stores  to  home  consumers.  The  rest  goes  to  institutions  (hotels, 
restaurants,  bakeries,  sausage  manufacturers,  and  other  bulk  users).  For- 
merly, housewives  bought  whole  nutmegs  and  grated  them  at  home :  today, 
most  of  the  nutmeg  and  all  of  the  mace  sold  for  home  consumption  is  ground. 

Fixed  Oil  of  Xutmeg :  Known  also  as  "nutmeg  butter,"  this  vegetable  fat 
is  obtained  by  exposing  the  nuts  to  hydraulic  pressure  and  heat.  At  room 
temperature,  it  is  an  orange,  tallowy  mass  with  a  pronounced  aroma  of 
nutmeg  and  the  consistency  of  butter.  Formerly  used  in  medicine  as  an  ex- 
ternal application  for  rheumatism  and  sprains,  it  has  some  commercial  im- 
portance today  as  an  ingredient  of  certain  soaps,  hair  tonics,  and  perfiunes 

Essentiol  Oils  of  Nutmeg  and  Ma^e:  The  essential  or  volatile  oils  of  nut- 
meg and  mace  are  obtained  by  steam  distillation.  Commercial  oil  of  nutmeg 
is  a  mobile,  pale  yelloAv  liquid  with  an  odor  and  flavor  of  nutmeg.  It  is  not 
satisfactory  as  a  substitute  for  the  spice  in  cooking  because  it  does  not 
exactly  reproduce  the  flavor  of  whole  nutmeg.  ("Essences"  of  ntttmeg  and 
mace  sold  by  spice  dealers  are  alcohol  extracts  not  essential  oils.)  But  oil  of 
nutmeg  has  been  widely  used  in  industry  as  a  flavoring  agent  for  perfumes 
and  dentifrices.  Chemically,  it  is  a  complex  mixture  of  alcohols,  esters,  and 
organic  acids,  including  about  four  percent  myristicin,  the  main  pharmaco- 
logically active  component  (7.  Vol  V :  <S :  5) . 

History  of  Nutmeg 

Xutmeg  was  unknown  to  the  ancient  Greeks  aiad  Romans,  but  probably, 
Arabian  tradei-s  began  importing  it  from  the  East  Indies  by  the  first  centuries 
A.D.  No  definite  evidence  of  Myristica's  appearance  in  Europe  is  recorded 
imtil  the  12th  Century,  and  the  source  of  nutmeg  was  not  discovered  by  the 
West  until  the  Portuguese  reached  Banda  in  1512.  Portugal  controlled  trade 
in  nutmeof  and  mace  from  that  vear  until  the  beginning  of  the  17th  Century, 
when  most  of  the  Pacific  spice-producing  territories  fell  into  the  hands  of 
the  Dutch.  In  order  to  keep  prices  of  the  spices  very  high,  the  Dutch  tried 
to  limit  cultivation  of  the  nutmeg  tree  to  two  islands,  but  their  monopoly 


was  eventually  challenged  successfully  by  the  French  and  British.  Gradually, 
commercial  development  of  M.  fragrans  spread  throughout  the  world,  reach- 
ing Grenada,  for  example,  in  1843  {3) . 

Like  most  aromatics,  nutmeg  was  as  important  in  early  medicine  as  it  was 
in  cooking  {10) .  Its  therapeutic  applications  were  first  catalogued  by  Arab 
physicians  as  early  as  the  7th  Century  A.D.  Originally,  it  seems  to  have  been 
a  remedy  for  disorders  of  the  digestive  system,  but  before  long  it  was  con- 
sidered beneficial  in  such  diverse  conditions  as  kidney  disease,  pain,  and 
lymphatic  ailments ;  it  was  even  described  as  an  aphrodisiac.  Many  of  these 
beliefs  are  preserved  in  contemporary  Arab  folk  medicine ;  in  fact,  Yemenite 
men  still  consume  it  to  increase  virility. 

Similarly,  nutmeg  was  and  is  a  significant  item  in  the  Hindu  pharma- 
copeia, where  it  has  been  prescribed  for  fever,  consumption,  asthma,  and 
heart  disease.  Traditional  Malayan  medicine  designates  nutmeg  for  madness 
as  well.  According  to  an  adviser  in  the  Indian  Ministry  of  Health,  nutmeg 
is  still  used  as  an  analgesic  and  sedative  by  folk  practitioners,  and  is  given 
in  small  quantities  to  induce  hypnotic  effect  in  irritable  children. 

Medieval  European  physicians,  who  generally  followed  the  precepts  of 
their  Arab  colleagues,  also  prescribed  nutmeg  for  a  long  list  of  ailments.  By 
the  l700's  the  spice  attained  its  greatest  reputation ;  thereafter,  with  the  de- 
velopment of  modern  pharmacy,  its  importance  as  a  medicine  gradually 

Curiously,  nutmeg's  popularity  as  a  folk  remedy  had  a  brief,  spectacular 
resurgence  less  than  one  hundred  years  ago.  Near  the  end  of  the  1800's,  a 
rumor  spread  among  women  in  England  and  America  that  nutmeg  could 
bring  on  overdue  menstruation  and  even  induce  abortion.  The  origin  of  this 
mistaken  belief  is  unclear,  but  its  influence  is  well  documented  in  dozens  of 
case  reports  of  nutmeg  poisoning  published  in  British  and  American  medi- 
cal journals  of  the  period  {10).  The  idea  has  even  persisted  into  our  times: 
Green  in  1959  wrote  of  a  28-year-old  Virginia  woman  who  ate  "18.3  Gm.  of 
finely  ground  nutmeg  in  an  attempt  to  induce  the  menses,  which  had  been 
delayed  two  days  ." 

Reports  of  nutmeg  poisoning  date  back  to  the  late  Middle  Ages  when 
several  early  physicians  first  wrote  down  their  observations  on  the  stupor- 
inducing  powers  of  the  spice.  Doubtless,  most  of  these  intoxications  resulted 
from  overdoses  taken  as  remedies.  A  late  example  comes  from  A  Treatise 
on  the  Materia  Medica  written  in  1789  by  an  English  physician,  William 
CuUen.  He  wrote : 

I  have  myself  had  an  accidental  occasion  of  observing  its  [nutmeg's]  soporific  and 
stupefying  power.  A  person  by  mistake  took  two  drams  or  a  little  more  of  powdered 
nutmeg ;  he  felt  it  warm  in  his  stomach,  without  any  uneasiness ;  but  in  about  an  hour 
after  he  had  taken  it,  he  was  seized  with  a  drowsiness,  which  gi'adually  increased  to 
a  complete  stupor  and  insensibility ;  and  not  long  after,  he  was  found  fallen  from  his 
chair,  lying  on  the  floor  of  his  chamber  in  the  state  mentioned.  Being  laid  abed  he  fell 
asleep ;  but  waking  a  little  from  time  to  time,  he  was  quite  delirious :  and  he  thus  con- 
tinued alternately  sleeping  and  delirious  for  several  hours.  By  degrees,  however,  both 
these  symptoms  diminished,  so  that  in  about  six  hours  from  the  time  of  taking  the 


nutmeg  he  was  pretty  well  recovered  from  both.  Although  he  still  complained  of  head- 
ache and  some  drowsiness,  he  slept  naturally  and  quietly  through  the  following  night, 
and  next  day  was  quite  in  his  ordinary  health. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  this  was  entirely  the  effect  of  the  nutmeg.  .  .  . 

In  1829,  the  great  physiologist  J.  E.  Purkinje  conducted  self -experiments 
with  nutmeg.  Following  a  dose  of  three  whole  nutmegs,  he  experienced 
spatial  and  temporal  disorientation  similar  to  that  of  Camaabis  intoxication. 
He  wrote  {12): 

At  half-past  six.  when  it  was  almost  dark,  I  woke  up  in  order  to  go  to  the  Royal 
Theatre  at  Brueder  Street  where  I  lived.  The  distance  was  long,  but  this  time  I  thought 
it  had  no  end.  My  movements  api)eared  entirely  adequate,  but  were  lost  momentarily  in 
dream  pictures,  from  which  I  had  to  extricate  myself  with  considerable  force  in  order 
to  keep  on  walking.  My  feet  did  their  duty  and,  since  I  had  to  stick  to  a  straight  road, 
there  was  no  danger  of  going  astray.  I  went  forward  in  this  dream,  for,  if  I  attempted 
to  orient  myself,  I  could  not  even  recognize  the  cross  streets.  Time  seemed  long,  but  I 
got  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  place  where  I  was  going.  During  this  time  dreams  and 
physical  activity  battled  one  another.  The  return  journey  was  good,  and  I  slept  well 
that  night  and  next  day. 

There  is  a  similar,  more  dramatic  report  of  mace  intoxication  from  1848 
{13) .  But  as  stated  earlier,  the  greatest  numbers  of  peo^^le  poisoned  by 
Myristica  have  been  English  and  American  women  of  the  late  19th  and 
early  20th  Centuries.  Summarizing  many  of  these  cases  in  1962,  McCord 
wrote  (14-)  '■ 

.  .  .  patients  have  consumed  from  1  to  3  nutmegs  and  have  experienced  restlessness, 
dizziness,  fear  of  death,  coldness  of  extremities,  occasional  nausea  and  vomiting, 
abdominal  pain,  and  precordial  pain  or  oppression.  These  patients  were  found  to  be 
extremely  agitated,  delirious,  and  dyspneic  and  have  had  weak,  rapid  pulses  and  de- 
creased body  temperature.  On  several  occasions  patients  were  found  unconscious.  Oc- 
casionally there  was  flushing  of  the  face  while  at  other  times  pallor  with  cyanosis  of 
the  lips  and  nails  predominated. 

He  attributed  these  intoxications  to  "a  central  nervous  system  depressive 
effect  with  periods  of  stimulation  and  associated  respiratory  and  cardio- 
vascular difficulties."" 

Only  one  fatality  has  ever  been  ascribed  to  nutmeg  ingestion:  near  the 
begimiing  of  this  century,  an  eight  year  old  boy  ate  two  whole  nutmegs, 
became  comatose,  and  died  less  than  24  hours  later  (IS) . 

Use  of  Nutmeg  as  an  Intoxicant 

The  apparent  epidemic  of  nutmeg  intoxications  aroiuid  the  turn  of  the  cen- 
tury subsided  after  the  First  "World  "War.  Cases  since  then  have  been  rare. 
In  1963,  Payne  presented  one  of  the  only  published  reports  of  deliberate 
ingestion  of  Myristica  for  narcotic  effects.  He  described  two  college  students, 
19  and  20  years  old.  Avho  each  consumed  two  tablespoonfuls  (about  14  g. 
or  the  equivalent  of  two  whole  seeds)  of  powdered  nutmeg  suspended  in 
milk  {16).  About  five  hotirs  later 

.  .  .  each  had  the  onset  of  a  significant  pharmacologic  effect,  heralded  by  a  leaden 
feeling  in  the  extremities  and  a  nonchalant,  detached  mental  state  described  as  'un- 
real' or  'dreamlike.'  Rapid  heart  rates  and  palpitation  were  noted,  and  both  complained 


of  dry  mouth  and  thirst.  Onlookers  observed  that  one  student  became  quite  hyperactive 
and  agitated  and  talked  incoherently.  It  was  noted  that  the  faces  of  both  vyere  as  'red  as 
beets.'  Nausea,  vomiting,  and  abdominal  cramps  were  absent.  .  .  .  One  described  a  sense 
of  impending  doom,  as  if  he  were  'breaking  up  inside.' 

Extreme  drowsiness  occurred  about  seven  hours  after  these  symptoms 
began  and  continued  for  the  next  24  hours.  Recovery  was  complete,  but  "both 
patients  stated  emphatically  that  a  sense  of  unreality  persisted  for  48  to  60 
hours  from  the  time  of  one  oral  dose  of  nutmeg." 

A  history  of  the  use  of  nutmeg  for  the  express  purpose  of  inducing  these 
bizarre  physical  and  mental  effects  is  hard  to  piece  together  simply  because 
reliable  data  on  Myristica  narcosis  are  not  available.  The  medical  literature 
is  of  no  help,  for  example,  because  nearly  all  the  reported  cases  have  resulted 
from  accidental  ingestions  or  overdoses  taken  as  remedies.  Most  of  the  in- 
formation on  nutmeg  as  a  psychoactive  drug  is  anecdotal,  and  it  has  been 
most  difficult  to  document  the  anecdotes. 

Stories  in  circulation  about  nutmeg  at  the  present  time  develop  several 
recurrent  themes.  One  is  that  Myristica  is  used  as  an  intoxicant  in  certain 
parts  of  Asia.  Another  is  that  nutmeg  is  widely  consumed  by  prison  inmates 
in  this  country.  A  third  is  that  students  and  'beatniks'  have  adopted  the 
the  spice  as  a  new  hallucinogen. 

For  the  first  story  little  supporting  evidence  can  be  found.  A  suggestive 
clue  is  one  of  the  synonyms  for  nutmeg  used  in  Ayurveda,  an  ancient  Hindu 
scripture.  Here,  nutmeg  is  called  Mada  shaunda  meaning  "narcotic  fruit." 
There  is  reason  to  believe  that  nutmeg  is,  in  fact,  eaten  as  an  intoxicant  even 
today  by  some  people  in  India  who  add  it  to  betel  chew.  It  may  also  be  mixed 
with  tobacco  and  snuffed  in  this  part  of  the  world.  Equally  vague  is  a  report 
that  nutmeg  is  taken  as  a  stimulating  snuff  by  natives  in  remote  regions 
of  Indonesia.  Still  another  unsubstantiated  assertion  is  that  nutmeg  is  often 
substituted  for  hashish  in  Egypt  when  the  hemp  product  is  not  available. 

It  is  much  easier  to  confirm  rumors  of  nutmeg  use  by  prison  inmates, 
despite  denials  by  prison  officials.  One  interesting  reference  occurs  in 
The  AutoMography  of  Malcolm  X  (17),  in  which  the  late  Black  Muslim 
leader  describes  his  incarceration  in  a  Boston  prison  in  1946.  He  was  then 
a  user  of  marihuana  and  other  drugs  and  found  himself  suddenly  cut  off 
from  them.  He  wrote : 

I  first  got  high  in  Charlestown  [prison]  on  nutmeg.  My  cellmate  was  among  at 
least  a  hundred  nutmeg  men  who,  for  money  or  cigarettes,  bought  from  kitchen- 
worker  inmates  penny  matchboxes  full  of  stolen  nutmeg.  I  grabbed  a  box  as  though 
it  were  a  pound  of  heavy  drugs.  Stirred  into  a  glass  of  cold  water,  a  penny  matchbox 
full  of  nutmeg  had  the  kick  of  three  or  four  reefers. 

A  more  recent  but  less  accessible  reference  was  a  short  article  on  page  22 
of  the  Chicago  Sun-Times  for  March  3,  1961.  It  told  of  the  dismissal  of  a 
Cook  County  Jail  guard  caught  smuggling  nutmeg  and  nose  inhalers  into 
the  jail. 

An  officer  of  the  Federal  Bureau  of  Prisons  has  written  (18)  : 

We  are  aware  of  the  narcotic  reaction  these  spices  may  have  when  improperly 
used,  and,  therefore,  it  is  standard  practice  in  the  Federal  prisons  to  maintain  care- 
ful control  of  both  items  [i.e.,  nutmeg  and  mace].  Due  to  this  control  and  also  to  the 


fact  .  .  .  that  few  people  are  aware  of  their  stupor-inducing  powers,  we  have  no 
problems  with  these  items.  I  have  read  articles  in  various  publications  which  imply 
that  the  use  of  nutmeg  and  mace  is  widespread  in  prisons.  However  I  do  not  know 
of  a  single  instance  in  the  Federal  Prison  system  where  either  spice  was  used  by 
inmates  for  its  narcotic  effect. 

There  is,  hovrever,  ample  confirmation  of  this  rumored  use  of  nutmeg 
in  a  study  conducted  hj  Weiss  at  the  Xew  Jersey  State  Prison  at  Trenton 
in  1960.  Weiss  wrote  (i.9)  : 

It  is  widely  believed  by  inmates  of  correctional  institutions  that  the  drug  action 
of  nutmeg  produces  reactions  similar  to  those  of  legally  prohibited  drugs  which  are 
considered  habit-forming  and  addicting.  Although  its  illicit  application  is  most  cer- 
tainly not  widely  known  in  the  extra-mural  setting,  personal  communications  by 
prisoners  are  to  the  effect  that  it  is  used,  not  only  in  the  community  [i.e.,  the 
outside],  but  was  also  used  in  the  armed  forces  in  Europe  in  World  "War  II. 

Weiss  studied  ten  male  inmates  of  the  prison,  most  of  whom  had  had 
previous  experiences  with  marihuana  and  other  drugs.  Six  of  them  had 
learned  of  the  use  of  nutmeg  during  their  imprisonment ;  the  others  had 
already  known  about  it.  The  number  of  times  these  men  had  tried  Myristica 
was  impressive.  One  had  taken  nutmeg  on  10  different  occasions,  one  30, 
one  52,  and  one  475.  The  minimum  amount  of  ground  nutmeg  any  man 
ingested  was  2  to  3  tablespoonfuls,  and  one  had  once  taken  two  cups  of 
the  spice  as  a  single  dose  (apparently  without  untoward  effects).  The  drug 
was  always  taken  orally,  usually  stirred  into  hot  liquids. 

Weiss  noted  no  uniformity  of  time  of  onset  of  action,  which  ranged  from 
10  minutes  to  four  hours.  Duration  of  action  ranged  from  four  to  24  hours. 
Most  of  the  subjects  compared  nutmeg  to  marihuana,  although  some  also 
likened  it  to  heroin,  and  alcohol.  Most  experienced  a  sense  of  being  trans- 
ported aloft,  along  with  drowsiness  in  some  cases  and  excitement  in  others. 
In  all  instances  tliirst  was  increased,  but  himger  was  not  stimulated.  Ee- 
ported  side  effects  included  nausea,  abdominal  spasm,  vomiting,  constipa- 
tion, tachycardia,  insomnia,  and  drowsiness. 

Two  cases  of  acute  brain  syndrome,  with  psychotic  reaction  due  to  nutmeg  intoxica- 
tion, were  reported.  Each  of  the  two  subjects  had  chronically  ingested  powdered 
nutmeg  over  a  long  period.  .  .  .  Aside  from  these  cases  of  poisoning,  the  hallucino- 
genic effects  rei)orted  were  transitory  and  of  brief  duration. 

Consumption  of  nutmeg  was  an  important  aspect  of  life  in  the  prison. 
Weiss  has  added  (20)  : 

Inmates  would  carry  little  matchboxes  in  which  they  would  store  a  supply  of  nut- 
meg (equivalent  to  one  dose).  They  could  then  take  the  dose  along  with  them  to  the 
shops  in  which  they  worked  during  the  day.  Users  consider  themselves  to  be  more 
lively  and  cheerful.  Thus,  they  feel  they  have  dispelled  their  inner  gloom.  However, 
drug  users  seldom  take  nutmeg  once  they  leave  the  prison  since  they  consider  its 
effects  to  be  inferior  to  those  of  heroin  or  marihuana,  whatever  may  be  the  similarity 
between  them. 

Shortly  after  Weiss's  article  appeared,  nutmeg  was  banned  from  the  Xew 
Jersey  State  Prison  kitchen. 

I  have  received  information  from  several  former  prison  inmates,  sug- 
gesting the  practice  to  be  common.  One  correspondent  writes :  "During  16 
months  in  a  Massachusetts  correctional  institution,  I  knew  three  individ- 


uals  who  on  occasion  did  use  nutmeg  as  a  snuff  for  'kicks.'  It  was  done  on 
weekends  and  widely  dispersed  as  to  time."  Another,  from  California, 
writes :  "I  can  tell  you  that  nutmeg  is  a  commonly  used  high  within  prison 
walls — so  much  so  that  it  is  frequently  locked  up  apart  from  the  other 
normally  used  spices.  .  .  .  Convicts,  because  of  the  nature  of  their  environ- 
ment, have  rarely  any  alternative  high." 

A  final  reference  is  this  line  from  William  Burroughs's  Naked  Lunch 
{21)  :  "Convicts  and  sailors  sometimes  have  recourse  to  nutmeg.  About 
a  tablespoon  is  swallowed  with  water.  Result  vaguely  similar  to  mari- 
huana with  side  effects  of  headache  and  nausea." 

Like  prisoners,  jazz  musicians  are  said  to  have  long  used  nutmeg  as  a 
substitute  for  other  drugs,  especially  marihuana.  Confirmation  is  hard  to 
come  by.  The  only  clear  reference  I  have  been  able  to  find  is  a  1962  bio- 
graphy of  the  late  Charlie  Parker,  known  as  "Bird."  The  leader  of  the 
band  in  which  Parker  made  his  recording  debut  in  1942  is  quoted  as 
reminiscing  {22)  : 

Bird  introduced  this  nutmeg  to  the  guys.  It  was  a  cheap  and  legal  high.  You 
can  take  it  in  milk  or  Coca  Cola.  The  grocer  across  the  street  came  over  to  the  club 
owner  and  said,  "I  know  you  do  all  this  baking  because  I  sell  from  8  to  10  nutmegs 
a  day."  And  the  owner  came  back  and  looked  at  the  bandstand  and  there  was  a 
whole  pile  of  nutmeg  boxes. 

To  summarize  thus  far:  The  toxic  properties  of  nutmeg  have  been 
recognized  for  hundreds  of  years,  probably  ever  since  the  spice  was  first 
prescribed  medicinally  in  large  doses.  Published  reports  of  Mjj^ristica 
narcosis  were  most  frequent  around  the  turn  of  the  last  century  when  many 
women  took  nutmeg  as  an  emmenagogue  or  abortifacient.  Some  evidence 
suggests  that  nutmeg  may  have  long  been  used  as  an  intoxicant  in  certain 
parts  of  Asia.  In  our  century,  for  at  least  the  past  thirty  years,  prisoners, 
jazz  musicians,  sailors,  and  probably  others  have  used  nutmeg  as  a  sub- 
stitute for  marihuana  or  other  drugs.  They  either  eat  or  snuff  it  in  variable 
amounts  and  commonly  experience  symptoms  much  more  like  those  of 
the  familiar  hallucinogens  than  those  described  in  the  old  reports  of  nut- 
meg poisoning. 

Use  by  Students 

In  our  own  society  the  fastest-growing  group  of  drug-takers  is  not  the 
prison  population  or  jazz  world  but  rather  students  and  "student-types." 
I  do  not  care  to  add  another  guess  to  the  many  published  estimates  of  what 
percentage  of  college  youth  experiments  with  hallucinogens.  I  will  simply 
point  out  that  most  observers  find  that  significant  numbers  of  students  now 
try  marihuana  and  stronger  drugs  like  LSD.  It  is  especially  noteworthy 
that  many  of  these  people  would  never  have  indulged  in  such  activities 
even  five  years  ago.  I  doubt,  for  example,  that  more  than  a  handful  of 
law  students,  medical  students,  or  divinity  students  had  experienced  the 
effects  of  Cannabis  before  1963,  when  hallucinogens  first  came  to  the  full 
attention  of  the  national  press.  But  today  many  occasional  marihuana 


smokers  come  from  these  groups.  Students  have  also  been  the  initiators 
of  drug  fads  in  recent  years.  The  flurry  of  excitement  over  morning-glory 
seeds  in  1963  and  1964  Avas  generated  largely  by  college  undergraduates 
and  high  school  pupils.  One  would  expect  that  nutmeg,  because  of  its  fre- 
quent use  by  other  groups  as  an  alternative  hallucinogen,  might  also  be 
included  in  the  student's  or  beatnik's  index  of  psychoactive  substances. 

I  have  been  particularly  interested  in  this  possibility  because  I  first 
learned  of  Myristica's  psychopharmacological  potential  through  an  invita- 
tion to  a  "mace  party"  given  by  several  undergraduates  at  Haverford 
College  near  Philadelphia  in  1961.  The  students  said  they  and  many  of 
their  classmates  had  been  introduced  to  the  spice  by  a  visiting  beatnik 
from  Baltimore,  who  had  sponsored  several  mace  parties  on  campus. 

Only  one  case  of  this  sort  has  appeared  in  the  medical  literature — 
Payne's  report  of  1963,  mentioned  earlier.  His  two  students  had  gotten  the 
idea  of  taking  nutmeg  from  a  "beatnik  acquaintance,"  who  told  them  it 
would  provide  "a  mental  state  somewhat  akin  to  ethanol  intoxication  with- 
out requiring  the  use  of  alcohol"  {16).  I  have  been  able  to  find  only  one 
other  published  account — an  article  titled  "Nutmeg  Jag"  in  the  sumimer, 
1964  issue  of  a  University  of  Mississippi  student  magazine.  It  described 
a  nutmeg  party  attended  by  eight  persons.  One  participant — a  young  man 
who  consumed  a  whole  standard-size  can  of  the  ground  spice  (nearly  40 
g.  or  1.5  oz.) — recalled  afterward  {23)  : 

I  felt  as  if  I  were  in  an  echo  chamber  .  .  .  my  voice  sounded  vague  and  dis- 
tant ...  it  was  like  being  drunk  without  the  ordinary  alcoholic  effects.  .  .  .  Two 
friends  of  mine  had  told  me  about  the  30-cents,  three-day  drunk  they  had  after 
taking  nutmeg,  so  I  tried  it  out  of  sheer  disbelief. 

Over  the  past  six  months  I  have  been  in  touch  with  officials  of  student 
health  services  at  representative  universities  throughout  the  countr^^  in  an 
attempt  to  collect  additional  reports  of  Myristica  intoxications.  Signifi- 
cantly, most  of  the  responding  j)hysicians  were  unaware  of  nutmeg's  non- 
culinary  uses.  Only  two  university  clinics  had  cases  on  record.  Dr.  Henry 
B.  Bruyn  of  the  University  of  California  at  Berkeley  student  health  serv- 
ice notes  two  instances  of  intoxication.  In  October,  1963,  two  days  after 
an  issue  of  the  Ladies  Home  Journal  appeared  with  a  reference  to  nutmeg 
in  a  story  on  hallucinogenic  drugs,  a  20-year-old  female  student  was  ad- 
mitted to  the  hospital  with  a  chief  complaint  of  abdominal  cramps.  The 
night  before  she  had  taken  4  teaspoons  of  ground  nutmeg  because  a  friend 
had  told  her  it  would  get  her  high.  Her  roommate  joined  her  in  this  in- 
gestion. The  next  morning  she  awoke  drowsy  and  fainted  in  the  bath- 
room. Physical  examination  was  normal  except  for  orthostatic  hypoten- 
sion, and  she  was  recoA'ered  the  day  after  admission.  She  told  a  phj'sician 
she  had  taken  the  spice  because  she  "felt  she  needed  something  to  do." 

In  January,  1965,  a  second  female  Berkeley  student  was  admitted,  age 
17,  again  with  abdominal  cramps.  Four  hours  previously  she  ]iad  eaten 
21/2  teaspoons  of  nutmeg  because  she  had  heard  it  would  give  her  hallucina- 
tions. She,  too,  recovered  quickly. 


Dr.  B.  W.  Murphy  of  the  University  of  Maryland  contributes  one  other 
case.  He  writes  that  he  knows  of  a  male  student  who  induces  dreamy 
hallucinatory  states  by  ingesting  a  whole  can  of  ground  nutmeg. 

Does  the  scarcity  of  reported  cases  indicate  a  low  frequency  of  nutmeg 
use  by  students?  Probably  not — just  because  students  are  reluctant  to 
present  themselves  for  medical  treatment  of  drug  intoxications,  even  when 
they  suffer  alarming  symptoms.  Relying  solely  on  health  services  records, 
one  would  conclude  that  marihuana  is  also  very  little  used  by  college 

To  get  a  more  accurate  idea  of  the  extent  of  experimentation  with  nut- 
meg on  college  campuses,  I  placed  advertisements  requesting  information 
on  the  spice  in  several  student  newspapers  and  also  interviewed  students 
from  many  areas  of  the  country.  By  these  methods,  I  easily  collected  a 
number  of  accounts  of  nutmeg  narcosis.  I  have  selected  some  of  these  to 
illustrate  typical  patterns  of  use. 

Case  #1  (college  sophomore)  — 

I  heard  about  the  effects  of  mace  from  a  beatnik  who  visited  our  campus  and  induced 
students  to  "turn  on"  with  two  teaspoons  of  this  spice  stirred  into  fruit  juice.  I  didn't 
try  it  at  the  time,  but  a  few  months  later  five  of  us  held  a  mace  party  in  my  apartment. 
To  the  disappointment  of  all,  we  felt  just  the  same  three  hours  after  drinking  down  the 
mace.  Convinced  that  the  alleged  hallucinogenic  properties  of  mace  were  imaginary,  we 
separated  and  I  went  to  bed.  I  remember  feeling  somewhat  lightheaded  and  having 
vague  stomach  pains  before  falling  asleep,  but  I  had  no  other  sjT)mtoms  until  I  woke 
up  the  next  morning  with  a  splitting  headache,  a  burning  thirst,  and  malaise.  I  later 
learned  the  other  four  had  felt  much  the  same  on  arising. 

Case  #2  (college  juniors) — 

Five  of  us  tried  to  get  high  by  eating  two  whole  nutmegs  each.  They  are  terrible 
things  to  try  to  chew  up  and  swallow.  We  all  had  warm  feelings  in  our  stomachs  im- 
mediately afterward  and  began  sweating  more  than  usual.  One  of  us  eventually  had  a 
pronounced  reaction,  but  the  rest  of  us  noticed  nothing  unusual  and  gave  up  after  two 
hours.  The  next  morning  we  all  had  headaches,  extreme  dryness  of  mouth  and  throat, 
creaking  joints  and  dizziness. 

One  of  us  had  a  different  experience.  He  went  back  to  his  room  to  read,  and  exactly 
four  hours  after  taking  the  nutmeg  he  was  suddenly  overcome  by  a  drowsiness  so  pro- 
found that  he  could  hardly  get  up  to  turn  off  the  light.  As  he  fell  into  bed  he  had  im- 
pressions of  'strange  shapes  floating'  around  him.  He  then  sank  into  a  heavy  sleep. 
When  he  woke  up  seven  hours  later,  he  could  barely  move.  He  was  very  dizzy  and 
staggered  when  he  tried  to  walk ;  also,  he  could  not  see  clearly  for  several  minutes. 
His  mouth  and  throat  were  parched,  and  water  did  not  relieve  the  dryness.  Two  hours 
after  he  got  up  he  again  became  drowsy  and  "sank  into  a  sort  of  trance  state."  At  this 
time  he  had  a  vivid  impression  that  he  was  floating  with  his  limbs  separated  from 
his  body.  Eight  hours  later  he  was  fully  recovered. 

Case  #3  (an  ex-student  in  San  Francisco)  — 

I  have  had  completely  negative  results  from  nutmeg,  perhaps  partly  precipitated  by 
the  environment  and  definitely  partly  by  the  nauseating  effects  of  the  drug.  I  ate  three 
ounces,  which  may  well  have  been  too  much.  About  two  hours  later  I  drank  four  beers. 
Then  about  three-quarters  of  an  hour  after  the  beer  I  began  noticing  unusual  effects.  I 
was  in  an  unfamiliar  night  club  and  started  to  become  disoriented.  I  talked  continuously 
and  repetitively,  but  it  seemed  as  though  another  person  were  talking.  I  seem  to  have 
been  wandering  around  in  a  daze,  unaware  of  my  surroundings.  I  was  then  ejected 


from  the  club.  Paranoid  delusions  set  in.  I  believed  the  owners  of  the  club  had  drugged 
me.  I  forced  my  way  back  in,  which  resulted  in  my  being  jailed  for  drunk  and  disorderly 
conduct.  The  day  I  spent  in  jail  was  one  of  total  confusion.  In  fact,  it  was  a  full  day 
before  I  realized  I  was  in  jail.  I  was  very  belligerent,  a  condition  apparently  precipitated 
by  the  belief  that  I  was  going  to  be  executed.  I  became  ill  and  vomited.  I  imagined  the 
other  prisoners  were  Nazis  who  were  guarding  me.  One  day  in  jail  finally  restored  my 
reason,  and  I  was  released.  No  hallucinations  occurred  as  far  as  I  can  recall. 

Case  #4  (college  junior)  — 

I  drank  one  ounce  of  nutmeg  in  water.  Four  hours  later  I  began  feeling  feverish  and 
delirious.  These  sensations  continued  for  several  hours  and  left  me  with  a  bad  hangover. 
I  would  not  repeat  the  experience. 

Case  #5  (21-year-old  female  secretary  for  a  student  newspaper) — 

I  took  one  teaspoon  of  nutmeg  in  water  after  reading  about  it  in  Malcolm  X's  auto- 
biography. Nothing  happened. 

Case  #6  (college  junior) — 

I  took  a  whole  can  of  nutmeg  mixed  with  water.  I  had  no  effects  at  all  from  it. 
Case  #7  (medical  student) — 

When  I  was  a  junior  in  college  at  the  University  of  Colorado,  I  got  to  know  a  group  of 
nutmeg-takers  because  the  leader  of  it  had  been  a  close  high-school  friend.  In  1963,  I 
went  to  his  apartment  for  drinks,  and  he  told  me  to  take  a  matchboxful  of  ground  nut- 
meg, packed  into  gelatin  capsules.  The  method  of  these  people  was  to  take  the  nutmeg 
before  they  went  to  bed  so  that  they  would  wake  up  high  and  avoid  the  nausea  nutmeg 
often  caused.  Most  said  the  effects  were  different  from  both  morning-glory  seeds  and 
marihuana.  Some  experienced  floating  feelings.  They  took  nutmeg  occasionally  for  kicks, 
but  did  not  attach  too  much  importance  to  it.  I  do  not  know  where  they  first  learned  of 
this  habit,  but  my  friend  had  worked  as  a  volunteer  in  a  prison  before  1963  and  may 
have  been  told  about  it  there. 

Case  #8  (college  sophomore) — 

One  evening  my  roommate  and  I  each  took  a  tablespoon  of  nutmeg  in  water  after 
reading  about  it  in  Malcolm  X's  book.  Nothing  happened,  so  I  went  to  bed.  I  woke  up 
the  next  morning  with  incredible  malaise  and  tachycardia.  These  symptoms  eventually 
subsided  but  have  recurred  about  once  a  week  accompanied  by  severe  anxiety  for  the 
past  year.  This  reaction  occurs  spontaneously  but  also  is  brought  on  by  eating  anything 
containing  more  than  a  minute  amount  of  nutmeg.  One  doctor  has  suggested  that  it  may 
be  an  allergic  reaction.  My  roommate  had  no  effects  except  that  he  still  cannot  eat  any- 
thing with  nutmeg  without  experiencing  an  overpowering  taste  of  the  spice. 

Case  #9  (college  junior) — 

A  friend  told  me  about  nutmeg  and  came  over  to  show  me  how  to  do  it.  He  mixed  a 
drink  of  about  half  coffee  and  half  nutmeg,  which  my  roommate  and  I  drank.  Nothing 
happened  to  us  in  an  hour,  so  we  went  to  bed.  Next  morning  I  found  myself  on  the 
floor  with  the  worst  hangover  of  my  life.  My  roommate  felt  as  bad.  To  this  day  neither 
of  us  can  eat  anything  with  nutmeg — we  can't  bear  the  taste. 

Case  #10  (a  42-year-old  Berkeley  woman  who  describes  herself  as  "ec- 
centric" with  a  "terrible  fear  of  marihuana"  and  other  drugs.  After  reading 
of  nutmeg  in  a  "manual  of  hallucinogenic  drugs"  she  decided  to  try  it  since 
it  was  "cheap,  legal,  and  available."  She  took  nutmeg  on  several  occasions  and 
wrote  extensively  about  her  experiences.  Here  is  one  description.)  — 

I  drank  about  five  grams  of  nutmeg  in  a  glass  of  fruit  juice  at  about  9  :30  a.m.  An 
hour  later  I  felt  a  surge  of  happiness  when  a  freight  train  whistled.  I  closed  my  eyes 


in  search  of  hallucinations,  bat  none  came.  A  certain  diuretic  effect  and  pungent  scent 
in  my  urine  were  evidence  that  the  drug  had  already  taken  effect.  I  read  the  morning 
paper  until  11 :30  when  there  came  a  pleasant  drowsiness.  I  closed  my  eyes  and  saw : 
silver  spears  of  grass  waving  across  an  azure  sky,  silver  waves  of  poplar  trees  swaying 
and  dancing  in  the  sun.  I  arose  to  walk  and  staggered.  The  light  was  flickering  and  dim 
as  if  I  were  partially  blind,  so  I  lay  down  on  a  couch  in  the  kitchen.  Closing  my  eyes 
again,  I  was  overwhelmed  by  visions :  golden  spangles  and  rings  of  light  on  moving 
water,  dancing  moons  and  stars,  everywhere  a  predominance  of  gold  and  silver 
images. . . . 

About  12  :30  I  opened  my  eyes  and  noticed  that  the  stove  was  far,  far  away ;  the 
very  walls  had  receded ;  the  kitchen  was  cathedral-like  in  its  dimensions.  I  stood  up  to 
look  at  myself,  and  I  was  unusually  tall.  My  feet  were  small  and  far  away ;  it  was  like 
looking  through  the  wrong  end  of  binoculars.  I  thought  to  myself,  "This  must  be  what 
marihuana  is  like." 

The  effect  continued  several  hours  until  she  fell  asleep.  There  were  no 


From  these  and  other  cases  I  draw  the  following  conclusions : 

1.  Significant  numbers  of  students  and  persons  living  in  student  communi- 
ties attempt  to  induce  hallucinations  with  Myristica. 

2.  Unlike  prisoners  or  musicians,  who  resort  to  nutmeg  when  their  sup- 
plies of  standard  drugs  are  cut  off,  students  often  take  nutmeg  as  a  first 
experience  before  they  try  Cannabis  or  other  substances.  Nutmeg  and  mace 
are  cheap,  legal,  and  available  at  the  nearest  grocery  store. 

3.  Typically,  the  young  nutmeg-eater  first  learns  of  the  spice's  psycho- 
activity  from  a  friend  or  from  a  published  reference. 

4.  Doses  range  from  one  teaspoon  to  a  whole  can  of  ground  nutmeg.  Almost 
always,  the  spice  is  drunk  in  a  glass  of  juice  or  water. 

5.  Onset  of  action  is  commonly  2  to  5  or  more  hours  after  ingestion.  Most 
neophytes  are  not  aware  of  the  delay.  In  a  very  common  pattern  of  intoxica- 
tion, a  person  takes  an  adequate  dose  of  nutmeg  in  the  evening,  goes  to  bed 
after  several  hours  of  waiting  in  vain  for  effects,  and  wakes  up  the  next 
morning  with  many  of  the  physical  symptoms  of  toxicity :  malaise,  headache, 
dry  mouth,  tachycardia,  dizziness. 

6.  Some  of  the  reported  reactions  to  nutmeg  must  be  purely  psychological. 
A  dose  of  one  teaspoon  is  probably  insufficient  to  cause  true  symptoms. 
Similarly,  hallucinations  or  mental  changes  that  come  on  within  thirty  min- 
utes of  ingestion  are  likely  to  be  factitious. 

7.  Reactions  to  nutmeg  vary  from  no  mental  changes  at  all  to  full-blown 
hallucinogenic  experiences  like  those  caused  by  hashish  or  LSD.  There  is  no 
apparent  correlation  between  dose  and  psychoactive  effect.  Might  this  ex- 
treme variability  represent  differences  in  pharmacological  potency  of  differ- 
ent batches  of  nutmeg?  Or  do  people  vary  greatly  in  their  sensitivity  to  the 
active  principle  ? 

8.  Visual  hallucinations  are  rather  less  frequent  with  nutmeg  than  with 
drugs  like  LSD  or  mescaline,  but  distortions  of  time  and  space  perception 


with  feelings  of  unreality  are  common,  as  with  Cannabis.  Sensations  of  float- 
ing, being  transported  aloft,  or  having  one's  limbs  separated  from  the  body 
are  frequently  reported. 

9.  Effects  of  a  single  dose  of  nutmeg  usually  subside  within  12  to  48  hours 
An  intriguing  aftereffect  occasionally  mentioned  is  persistent  sensitization  to 
the  taste  of  the  spice. 

10.  Most  young  people  who  try  nutmeg  take  it  once  or  twice  but  do  not  use 
it  habitually.  Those  who  regularly  smoke  marihuana  regard  nutmeg  as  an 
inferior  hallucinogen,  largely  because  of  the  unpleasant  side  effects. 

11.  Ignorance  of  the  psychoactive  properties  of  nutmeg  is  unquestionably 
the  most  important  factor  limiting  extent  of  its  use  as  a  drug. 

I  want  to  emphasize  the  last  point.  I  began  this  general  review  by  indicat- 
ing the  differences  between  nutmeg  and  other  hallucinogens.  From  a  public 
health  viewpoint,  the  crucial  difference  is  that  most  persons  in  the  country 
have  not  yet  heard  that  nutmeg  is  intoxicating.  Not  only  is  nutmeg  cheap, 
legal,  and  available,  it  is  also  familiar,  which  makes  it  seem  safe  and  inviting 
to  those  looking  for  a  first  hallucinogenic  experience.  These  considerations 
lead  to  one  inference :  as  publicity  is  accorded  the  psychopharmacological 
properties  of  Myristica,  use  of  nutmeg  and  mace  as  intoxicants  will  certainly 
increase.  Hopefully,  we  will  soon  have  the  knowledge  to  determine  the  dan- 
gers and  potential  values  of  this  modern  use  of  an  ancient  spice. 


(1)  Feegtjson,  a.  M.  and  J.  Ferguson.  "All  About  Spices."  Colombo,  Ceylon,  1889. 

(2)  Ridley,  Henrt  N.  "Spices."  London,  1912. 

(3)  Warburg  O.  "Die  Muskatnuss."  Leipzig,  1897. 

(4)  "What  You  Should  Know  About  Nutmeg  and  Mace."  New  York,  American  Spice 

Trade  Association,  1966. 

(5)  Redgrove,  H.  Stanley.  "Spices  and  Condiments."  London,  1933. 

(6)  U.S.  Department  of  Commerce,  Bureau  of  the  Census  figures  complied  by  American 

Spice  Trade  Association,  New  York. 

(7)  Guenther,  E.  "The  Essential  Oils."  New  York,  1952. 

(8)  "The  Pharmacopoeia  of  the  United  States  of  America."  XV,  Easton,  Pa.,  1955. 

(9)  Power,  F.  B.  and  A.  H.  Salway.  "The  constituents  of  the  essential  oil  of  nut- 

me;."  J.  Chem.  Soc,  91 :  2037-2058, 1907. 
{10)  Weil,  Andrew  T.  "Nutmeg  as  a  Narcotic."  Econ.  Bot.,  19:  19^217,  1965. 

(11)  Green,  Robert  C,  Jr.  "Nutmeg  Poisoning."  J.  Amer.  Med.  Assoc.,  171:  1342-1344, 


(12)  PuRKiNJE,  J.  E.  "Einige  Beitraege  zur  physiologischen  Pharmakologie."  Neue 

Breslauer  Sammlungen  aus  dem  Gebiete  der  Heilkunde.  1 :  423-443,  1829 ; 
quoted  in  Hanzlik,  "P.  J.  Purkinje's  pioneer  self-experiments  in  psychopharma- 
cology."  Calif,  and  Western  Med.,  49  :  July  and  Aug.,  1938. 

(13)  Watson,  G.  C.  "Symptoms  of  poisoning  after  eating  a  quantity  of  mace."  Prov. 

Med.  Surg.  J.,  Jan.  26,  1&48. 

(14)  McCoRD,  J.  A.  and  L.  P.  Jeevey.  "Nutmeg  (myristicin)  poisoning."  J.  S.  Carolina 

Med.  Assoc.,  58 :  436-438, 1962. 

(15)  CusHNY,  A.  R.  "Nutmeg  poisoning."  Proc.  Royal  Soc.  Med.,  1908-1:  39. 

(16)  Payne,  Robert  B.  "Nutmeg  intoxication."  New  Eng.  J.  Med.,  269  :  36-38,  1963. 

(Mention  of  this  article  was  made  a  few  weeks  later  in  the  "Medicine"  section 
of  TIME  Magazine.) 


(17)  X,  Malcolm  with  Alex  Haley.  "The  Autobiography  of  Malcolm  X."  New  York, 

Grove  Press,  1964. 

(18)  Alldkedge,  Noah  L.,  Deputy  Assistant  Director,  U.S.  Bureau  of  Prisons.  Per- 

sonal communication,  April  6, 1964. 

(19)  Weiss,  George.  "Hallucinogenic  and  narcotic-like  effects  of  powdered  myristica 

(nutmeg)."  Psychiat.  Quart.,  34  :  346-356, 1960. 

(20)  Weiss,  George.  Personal  communication,  April  18,  1964. 

(21)  Burroughs,  William.  "Naked  Lunch."  New  York,  Grove  Press,  1959. 

(22)  Reisner,  Robert  George.  "Bird:  The  Legend  of  Charlie  Parker."  New  York, 

Citadel  Press,  1962. 

(23)  Andre,  Sigeid.  "Nutmeg  jag."  Mississippi  Mag.,  4:  18,  1964. 

262-016  0-67—15 


The  Chemistry  and  Psychopharma- 
cology  of  Nutmeg  and  of  Several 
Related  Phenylisopropylamines 

Alexander  T.  Shulgin 

Department  of  Pharmacology,  University  of  California 
San  Francisco  Medical  Center,  San  Francisco,  California 

Thornton  Sargent*  and  Claudia  Naranjo 

Centro  de  Estudios  de  Antropologia  Medica 
Universidad  de  Chile,  Santiago,  Chile 

Our  report  today  has  been  divided  into  two  separate  portions.  The  discus- 
sion of  nutmeg  and  its  composition,  and  of  the  possible  involvement  of  its 
chemical  components.  The  psychotropic  intoxication  has  a  natural  division 
into  two  areas  of  presentation.  The  first  is  a  brief  description  of  the  plant ;  a 
presentation  of  the  methods  and  procedures  for  the  isolation  and  the  identifi- 
cation of  the  many  components  in  the  oil  from  the  plant,  and  a  careful  defini- 
tion of  those  components  that  are  most  probably  involved  in  the  intoxicative 

The  extension  of  these  components  in  to  the  corresponding  amphetamines, 
their  effectiveness  in  humans,  and  the  likelihood  of  their  being  an  acceptable 
explanation  of  the  effects  of  the  total  nutmeg,  will  constitute  the  latter  part 
of  this  report.  In  the  previous  paper  there  was  presented  some  of  the  history  of 
nutmeg,  and  a  description  of  the  style  and  extent  of  its  usage  in  various  cul- 
tures. In  the  reports  that  will  follow,  specific  descriptions  of  the  human  syn- 
drome of  intoxication,  and  some  of  the  pharmacological  ramifications  of  its 
study,  will  be  presented. 

At  this  point  we  would  like  to  present  a  factual  description  of  the  various 
chemical  materials  that  have  been  found  to  make  up  the  volatile  (and  pre- 
sumed active)  fraction  of  nutmeg.  On  the  hypothesis  that  one  or  more  com- 
ponents may  be  appropriately  assigned  the  responsible  role  for  the  nutmeg 
intoxication,  there  is  a  need  for  an  exact  chemical  definition  of  nutmeg.  But 
even  before  this,  we  must  define  in  botanical  terms  just  what  is  meant  by  the 
name  nutmeg. 

Properly  the  nutmeg  tree  is  any  plant  found  in  the  Genus  Myristica.  Two 
species  are  known  to  be  native  to  India.  M.  malabarica  produces  a  seed  some 
four  centimeters  long  and  elliptically  shaped,  and  M.  canarica  produces  a 
small  spherical  seed  about  two  centimeters  across.  Both  contain  primarily 
fats  and  myristic  acid,  and  being  virtually  without  odor  or  volatile  oil  have 
achieved  no  position  of  importance.  In  the  East  Indies  the  seeds  of  M.  suc- 
cedanea^  known  as  "Pala  Maba"  in  the  Indonesian  areas,  are  also  small  and 
quite  elongate  in  shape,  but  they  have  proven  valuable  as  rich  sources  of  the 
nutmeg  essential  oils.  Another  species,  M.  argentea,  has  actually  been  used 

•Present  address  :  Donner  Laboratory,  University  of  CaHfornla,  Berkeley,  California. 


in  the  spice  trade  under  the  name  of  "New  Guinea  Nutmegs"  or  "Long  Nut- 
megs". However  the  quantity  and  quality  of  the  volatiles  from  its  seeds  are 
quite  low.  The  plant  that  has  achieved  the  widest  study  and  commercial 
exploitation,  and  which  is  the  subject  of  this  portion  of  this  symposium,  is  M. 
fragrans.  This  species  originated  in  the  Mollucas  and  has  been  propagated 
throughout  the  adjoining  Indonesian  islands,  giving  rise  to  the  so-called 
East  Indian  nutmeg  of  commerce. 

A  little  over  a  hundred  years  ago,  the  tree  was  introduced  into  the  Carri- 
bean  area  and  since  the  end  of  World  War  II  has  led  to  the  establishment  of 
a  major  industry.  Grenada,  of  the  windward  islands,  now  supplies  a  major 
portion  of  the  world's  needs.  The  West  Indian  nutmeg  is  generally  conceded  as 
being  of  a  somewhat  lower  quality  than  its  East  Indian  forebears;  the  best 
grade  of  mace  still  comes  from  Asia. 

The  tree  has  also  been  translocated  into  Ceylon,  and  much  of  the  early 
analytical  work  on  the  composition  of  the  natural  extracts  was  conducted  on 
nutmegs  from  this  source.  It  is  no  longer  possible  to  obtain  commercial  sam- 
ples with  this  designation  however,  and  it  must  be  assumed  that  any  product 
from  this  area  has  been  absorbed  into  the  East  Indian  category. 

The  three  areas  of  the  plant  M.  fragrans  that  have  received  any  analytical 
attention  are  the  leaf,  the  arillode  (which  lies  within  the  husk  but  outside 
of  the  shell  of  the  seed,  and  which  is  known  as  mace) ,  and  the  kernel  of  the 
seed  itself,  the  nutmeg.  The  leaves  have  received  only  a  cursory  examination, 
which  has  indicated  that  although  there  is  only  a  small  amount  of  steam- 
distillable  material  present  (about  1.5%  of  the  dry  weight)  its  composition 
is  substantially  the  same  as  that  of  the  plant  parts  associated  with  the  seed 
{1).  The  studies  that  concern  the  volatile  oils  of  mace  are  best  presented 
later  in  direct  comparison  with  the  analysis  of  nutmeg  itself.  As  it  is  only  the 
nutmegs  that  are  invested  with  the  reputation  of  psychotropic  efficacy,  they 
have  served  as  the  primary  focal  point  of  our  analysis. 

The  actual  nutmeg,  when  removed  from  its  hard  brown  shell  or  testa  is  a 
spherical  kernel  that  weighs  about  five  grams.  The  thorough  work  of  Power 
and  Salway  {^)  must  serve  as  a  definitive  study  of  the  composition  of  the 
entire  nutmeg.  There  are  two  classical  ways  of  extracting  the  potentially 
interesting  materials  from  the  whole  fruit. 

Figure  1  shows  the  approximate  distribution  to  be  expected  with  the  em- 
ployment of  these  methods.  The  process  of  expression,  or  the  extraction  with 
an  organic  solvent,  provides  about  a  third  of  the  total  original  weight.  This 
fraction  is  known  as  the  fixed  oils,  and  has  also  been  called  Nutmeg  Butter 
or  "Oleum  Myristicae  expressum".  This  fraction  is  substantially  free  of  vola- 
tiles, and  is  composed  primarily  of  triglycerides.  Myristic  acid  is  the  prin- 
ciple compound  here,  although  both  oleic  acid  and  linoleic  acid  are  also 
found.  This  fraction  has  been  used  as  a  source  of  trimyristin  {3).  The  small 
non-fat  remainder  is  composed  of  unsaponifiable  compounds,  primarily  oxy- 
genated polyterpenes  and  phytosterols. 

The  subjection  of  the  total  crushed  seed  to  distillation  with  live  steam 
removes  some  10  to  15%  of  the  weight,  known  as  the  volatile  oil  fraction. 
The  small  overlap  that  is  shown  with  the  expression  fraction  is  due  to  the 




25-  40  7o 



— ^""'^'^^  UNKNOWN 





i          8-15%                  VOLATILE  OILS 

'         ^^"-^  AROMATICS 

80%  ^  





^          45  -  607o  PULP 


Fig.  1 

fact  that  some  of  the  volatile  components  are  removed  in  the  solvent  extrac- 
tion and  are  held  tightly  by  the  fixed  components  present.  This  volatile  frac- 
tion is  composed  primarily  of  terpenes,  which  make  up  some  80%  of  its  total 
weight.  The  remainder  is  the  aromatic  fraction,  composed  of  ethers  and 
phenolic  bodies. 

The  residue  that  remains  after  the  expression  of  the  solubles  and  the  dis- 
tillation of  the  volatiles  constitutes  some  50%  of  the  original  mass  of  the 
nutmeg.  It  is  presumably  a  cellulose-like  pulp,  and  it  remains  totally  unex- 
plored as  far  as  any  chemical  analysis  is  concerned. 

It  must  be  stated  here,  in  anticipation  of  later  discussions  on  the  pharma- 
cology of  nutmeg,  that  no  definitive  evaluation  of  these  fractions  (fats  and 
pulp)  have  been  made.  It  has,  however,  been  generally  accepted  that  it  is  the 
volatile  oil  fraction  to  which  one  must  look  for  the  effective  agents  of  nutmeg, 
and  it  is  this  "Oil  of  Nutmeg"  that  has  been  admitted  to  the  U.S.  Pharmaco- 
peia as  a  medicinal.  This  oil  comprises  between  an  eighth  and  a  twelfth  of 
the  entire  fruit,  and  it  serves  as  the  object  of  the  present  study. 

An  exacting  analysis  of  this  volatile  fraction  has  been  performed.  To  this 
end  a  five  pound  sample  of  West  Indian  Oil  of  Nutmeg  (from  the  George 
Lueders  Company,  New  York)  was  subjected  to  fractional  distillation  em- 
ploying a  70  tray  Oldershaw  column.  Fractions  were  collected  in  a  continuous 
sequence  and  each  of  these  was  in  turn  analysed  and  further  fractionated 
employing  a  preparative  gas  liquid  chromatographic  procedure.  Identity  of 
each  component  was  established  by  direct  isolation,  (employing  a  Varian 
A-700  Autoprep)  and  spectral  comparison  to  reference  samples  (through 
infra-red  and  high  resolution  mass  spectroscopy).  Quantitative  measure- 
ments were  achieved  employing  a  Varian  Aerographer  1200  with  a  flame 
detector,  and  peak  areas  were  established  with  an  Aerograph  475  Integration 



£a  JO  *e>  j-o 

''O'  S>0'  //O'  /JO'  /J-o'  7~^/^/'C/>/!l7-C/!C 

Fig.  2 

Figure  2  shows  what  might  well  be  called  a  fingerprint  of  the  oil  of  nutmeg. 
On  the  z-axis  is  shown  the  results  of  the  distillation.  This  was  continued  on 
the  70  tray  column  at  15  mm/Hg  until  the  aromatic  fraction  was  reached. 
Then  the  distillation  was  completed  at  1  mm/Hg  through  a  shorter  column. 
Although  the  actual  fractions  collected  were  not  exactly  of  25  grams  as  is 
presented  in  the  figure,  the  weights  have  been  normalized  to  this  amount, 
and  each  horizontal  line  thus  represents  an  equal  weight  of  distillate. 

The  X-axis  represents  the  progress  of  gas  liquid  chromatographic  separa- 
tion. The  time  required  for  desorbtion  of  each  of  the  peaks  is  shown,  and  as 
the  system  has  been  programmed  for  a  rise  of  2°/min.,  this  also  represents 
the  temperature  of  desorbtion. 

The  y-axis  is  peak  height  and,  as  it  is  characteristic  of  temperature  pro- 
grammed GLC  spectra  to  display  a  constant  peak  half-width,  this  height 
is  proportional  to  peak  area. 

Several  peaks  (components)  are  obvious  that  would  be  superimposed  by 
one  of  the  techniques  alone  (GLC  or  distillation),  but  are  readily  separated 
by  applying  the  other. 

The  long  ridge  down  the  left  hand  side  of  the  presentation,  parallel  to 
the  z-axis,  represents  the  similar  terpenes  a-pinene,  sabinine,  and  dipentene, 
and  this  is  separated  in  a  natural  division  from  the  second  and  smaller  group, 
the  aromatics. 

The  preponderance  of  a-pinene  has  been  mentioned,  but  both  sabinine  and 
y-terpinene  (1,  i-menthadiene)  warrant  special  note  as  neither  has  been 
observed  in  nutmeg  before.  The  terpenyl  alcohols  have  been  included  in  this 


group  as  are  the  two  aromatic  hydrocarbons  cymene  and  the  previously 
undetected  toluene.  On  the  other  hand  both  cineole  and  camphor  have  been 
recently  reported  to  be  present  to  the  extent  of  a  percent  or  two,  and  citro- 
nellol  and  citronellal  have  been  reported  in  trace  amounts  (4)  ;  none  of  these 
were  present  in  the  sample  we  investigated.  d-Borneol,  Avhich  had  originally 
been  assigned  to  nutmeg  on  indirect  evidence  (5)  was  not  present  in  our 

The  second  and  smaller  group,  the  aromatic  ether  fraction,  is  the  more 
interesting  and  as  will  be  shown  later  is  the  more  likely  to  be  implicated  in 
the  psychopharmacology  of  nutmeg.  In  Table  I  are  shown  the  nine  aro- 
matics  that  have  definitely  been  established  as  being  present  in  nutmeg,  and  it 
also  shows  the  extent  of  their  contribution  to  the  sample  analysed. 

The  three  major  components,  myristicin,  elemicin,  and  safrole  constitute 
nearly  9/10  of  the  group.  In  the  previously  reported  studies  of  nutmeg, 
myristicin  has  always  been  recognized  as  a  major  component,  and  has  thus 
often  been  thought  to  be  responsible  for  the  psychopharmacological  activity 
of  the  total  extract.  In  the  thorough  study  conducted  on  the  Ceylonese  Oil  of 
Nutmeg  (J)  safrole  was  found  only  in  very  small  quantities,  but  recently  its 
identity  as  a  significant  component  of  East  Indian  oils  has  been  reported, 
(6)  although  it  appeared  to  be  absent  in  the  West  Indian  varieties. 





















































Table  I. 



L.  Wl,      F.  W.I.      L.  E.I.      F.  E.I.       D.  ?       L.  ?        F,  E.I.      D.  ? 

^■t!?0     '  SAFROLE 

1.29       1.43        1.09       2.69       1.38       0  53      3  42       1  41 


^4/   \cH2CH=CH2  7.04       5.58       8.08       8  48      5.62       3  86     12.78  5.53 



CH30-/^^CH2CH=CH2  ^ '^^       °  °  °"       ^  °^       °  °^  ° 



IS  AROMATIC                     12  7         7  5        10  7  12  5        8  2         7.2        18  2  8.1 

THAT  IS  ACCOUNTED          8  4          94          9  0  9  0          9  4          9  0         89          9  5 

Table  II. 

We  have  made  a  comparative  study  of  the  aromatic  fraction  of  several 
samples  of  Oil  of  Nutmeg  from  different  geographical  origins,  and  of  Oil  of 
Mace  as  well.  These  results  are  shown  in  Table  II.  Here  the  surprisingly  wide 
variation  that  can  occur  between  these  principle  components  is  apparent.  The 
single  consistent  item  is  the  presence  of  myristicin  as  a  major  component.  In 
the  figure  the  F  found  at  the  heads  of  the  columns  represents  the  source, 
Fritzsche  Bros.,  New  York.  Similarly,  L  stands  for  Lueders  Co.  and  D  for 
Dreyers  Co.  The  WI  represents  West  Indian  sources,  and  EI  East  Indian. 
The  question  marks  refer  to  samples  whose  origin  was  undesignated.  Safrole 
has  been  found  in  both  East  and  West  Indian  oils  and  appears,  in  this 
analysis,  to  be  present  in  an  amount  from  15-30%  of  the  myristicin  present. 
The  amount  of  elemicin  present  is  most  erratic.  It  has  been  found  to  vary 
from  over  2%  in  the  Lueders  West  Indian  Oil  of  Nutmeg,  to  only  trace 
amounts  in  the  Fritzsche  samples.  The  various  oils  of  mace  show  neither 
consistency  nor  correlation  with  the  nutmeg  samples,  except  that  again, 
myristicin  appears  as  the  principle  component. 

The  assignment  of  the  chemical  structures  of  these  compounds  is  a  direct 
and  simple  matter  when  compared  to  the  task  of  assigning  responsibility  for 
the  intoxicating  and  psychotropic  properties  of  nutmeg.  The  kernel  itself  is 
the  only  component  of  the  tree  that  is  invested  with  the  reputation  for 
biological  activity.  Further,  it  may  be  asserted  that  the  psychoactive  com- 
pound or  compounds  probably  reside  in  the  volitale  oil  fraction  of  the  nut- 
meg, for  this  fraction  has  been  shown  in  animal  toxicology  studies  to  carry 
the  effectiveness  of  the  entire  seed.  Human  experiments  Avith  ground  nutmeg- 
depleted  of  its  volatiles  have  failed  to  show  psychopharmacological  responses 


With  the  satisfactory  assignment  of  the  identities  of  the  various  conspicu- 
ous components  to  be  found  in  nutmeg,  one  must  examine  how  each  of  these 
individually,  or  more  likely  in  concert,  may  achieve  a  role  in  a  reasonable 
explanation  of  the  activity  of  the  entire  seed.  Here  there  are  two  groups  of 
compounds  to  consider,  the  terpenes  and  the  aromatic  eithers.  It  is  tempting 
to  dismiss  the  terpenes  out  of  hand.  Although  they  constitute  by  far  the 
larger  portion  of  the  volatile  fraction,  the  terpene  hydrocarbons  are  generally 
held  to  be  of  biological  effectiveness  mainly  as  irritants.  Turpentine  has  a 
composition  quite  similar  in  make-up  to  this  terpene  fraction;  it  has  been 
widely  used  in  many  home  remedies,  but  it  has  certainly  not  commanded 
reputation  as  an  intoxicant.  It  may,  however,  have  some  function  in  assisting 
in  the  absorption  of  the  various  aromatic  compounds  through  the  gut. 

The  aromatic  fraction,  then,  would  seem  to  be  the  most  likely  source  of 
the  psychotropic  activity  of  nutmeg.  Table  III  shows  the  structure  of  each  of 
the  compounds  we  have  found  in  the  aromatic  fraction.  Also  shown  is  the 
amount  in  milligrams  of  each  of  these  components  that  would  be  present  in  20 
g.  of  the  whole  nutmeg,  20  g.  being  assumed  to  be  that  required  to  produce 











CH30-(^  y-CH=CHCH3 




H  2(^-0 























Table  III. 


psychotropic  effects.  As  stated  earlier,  saf role,  myristicin,  and  elemicin  ac- 
count for  some  84%  of  the  aromatic  fraction,  and  thus  are  the  primary 
materials  that  we  will  consider.  The  possibility  must  always  be  kept  in  mind 
that  one  of  the  minor  components  could  have  an  unusually  high  potency  and 
thus  contribute  to  the  activity. 

Of  the  primary  constitutents,  myristicin  is  by  far  the  most  abundant,  and 
for  this  reason  was  tested  specifically  for  psychotropic  activity  by  Truitt, 
et  al  (7).  Doses  of  400  mg.  myristicin,  almost  twice  the  amount  present  in 
20  g.  of  typical  nutmeg,  were  given  to  human  volunteers  and  the  observed 
symptoms  were  at  least  suggestive  of  psychotropic  effects  in  6  out  of  10 
subjects.  It  will  be  seen  later  that  those  effects  which  might  be  expected  from 
myristicin  may  be  rather  subtle,  and  so  may  require  some  synergistic  activity 
of  some  of  the  other  aromatic  compounds  to  produce  the  full  nutmeg 

Saf  role  is  also  a  component  of  other  natural  oils  and  spices,  the  most  notable 
being  the  Oil  of  Sassafras  which  contains  some  80%.  Both  the  oil  and  the 
derived  sassafras  tea  have  enjoyed  wide  use,  modestly  as  a  flavoring,  and  in 
larger  amounts  as  an  internal  medicament ;  yet  neither  has  a  reputation  for 
psychotropic  activity  as  does  nutmeg. 

Elemicin  is  unusual  in  that  among  the  flavoring  oils  and  spices,  it  occurs 
in  appreciable  amounts  only  in  nutmeg.  Further,  as  mentioned  earlier,  even 
in  nutmeg  the  amount  of  elemicin  is  highly  variable  and  depends  upon  the 
source  of  the  extract.  It  also  occurs  in  several  obscure  essential  oils,  none  of 
which  have  been  reported  to  have  been  used  pharmacologically.  It  is,  further, 
not  separable  from  myristicin  by  fractional  distillation.  The  myristicin  em- 
ployed in  all  earlier  pharmacology  (including  the  human  studies  mentioned) 
was  obtained  by  distillation  from  oil  of  nutmeg,  and  was  taken  to  be  the  single 
substance  myristicin.  It  thus  may  or  may  not  have  contained  elemicin  as  well, 
depending  on  the  origin  of  the  oil.  The  variability  of  elemicin  may  account  for 
the  apparently  highly  variable  degree  of  reported  psychoactive  effects  of 
nutmeg,  which  in  turn  implies  that  elemicin  may  indeed  be  an  active  com- 
ponent. Of  the  aromatic  components  present  in  lesser  amounts,  only  eugenol 
and  isoeugenol  have  found  use  either  as  flavoring  agents  or  as  medicinals. 
They  comprise  about  80%  of  the  Oil  of  Cloves  for  example,  but  again  search 
of  the  literature  on  such  natural  products  for  some  reputation  for  abuse  as 
an  intoxicant  has  been  futile. 

There  are  thus  several  possibilities  by  which  one  or  more  of  the  aromatic 
components  might  be  implicated  as  psychotropic  agents ; 

1.  One  of  the  compounds  that  is  present  only  in  very  small  amounts  may 
have  unusually  high  potency, 

2.  Elemicin  may  be  a  maj  or  contributor  of  activity,  or 

3.  A  combination  of  two  or  more  of  the  aromatics  present  may  be  involved. 
The  three  most  abundant  ones,  myristicin,  elemicin  and  safrole  may  be  suffi- 
cient to  account  for  the  total  activity. 

It  is  worth  noting  that  nutmeg  is  the  only  plant  source  within  which  these 
three  compounds  have  been  reported  as  occuring  together  in  any  appreciable 


quantity,  and  as  will  be  seen  later,  each  may  contribute  slightly  different 
aspects  to  the  total  psychotropic  effect. 

With  the  exception  of  myristicin  none  of  the  individual  components  of  the 
aromatic  fraction  have  been  evaluated  specifically  as  to  their  psychological 
effects.  The  ring  substitution  patterns  of  these  compounds  are  notable  in  that 
several  of  them,  specifically  myristicin,  elemicin  and  safrole,  are  identical  to 
the  ring  structures  of  materials  of  established  psychotogenic  activity.  The 
allylic  side  chain  is  amenable  to  chemical  modification,  as  shown  is  Fig.  3, 
wliich  could  convert  the  naturally  occuring  compounds  into  ones  of  known 
psychotropic  activity.  It  has  been  suggested  {8)  that  the  in  vivo  addition 
of  ammonia  to  the  olefinic  site  in  either  the  allyl  or  the  propenyl  isomer  would 
yield  amphetamines  directly.  To  speak  of  amphetamines  as  a  chemical  class 
is  not  strictly  correct,  but  we  use  it  to  refer  to  variously  methoxylated  phenyl- 
isopropylamines.  The  "EO"  in  the  figure  indicates  the  presence  of  any  variety 
of  ether  groups  on  the  ring,  and  thus  would  include  all  of  the  aromatic 
ethers  in  the  oil  of  nutmeg  and  in  many  other  natural  oils  as  well.  The  pos- 
sible mechanisms  of  such  an  in  vivo  transformation  have  been  elaborated 
upon,  and  are  plausible  to  the  extent  that  each  of  the  reactions  has  been 
achieved  in  vitro.  Support  for  this  transformation  occurring  in  vivo  has  been 
obtained  by  Barfknecht  (9),  who  found  evidence  for  the  production  of 
amphetamine  in  rats  after  feeding  them  allylbenzene.  This  corresponds  to 
ammonia  addition  in  Fig.  3  without  the  "RO"  ether  groups. 


Fig.  3. 


Throughout  the  general  area  of  spices  and  of  essential  oils  from  plant 
sources  there  is  about  a  score  of  substituted  phenylpropenes,  all  of  which 
are  characterized  by  ring  substitution  of  either  methoxy  groups  or  a  methyl- 
enedioxy  group  (or  both)  and  by  the  allyl  or  the  propenyl  side  chain  men- 
tioned above.  Of  these  a  total  of  eleven  different  ring  substitution  patterns 
have  been  reported  as  occuring ;  the  balance  of  the  twenty  known  aromatics 
consists  of  isomeric  variations  of  the  side  chain.  The  addition  of  an  amine 
to  this  olefinic  system  might  be  extremely  sensitive  to  substitutions  near  it, 
that  is,  whether  the  side  chain  be  allyl,  c/«-propenyl  or  ^mn^-propenyl. 
It  may  thus  be  in  turn  a  determining  factor  in  the  psychotropic  activity  of 
any  such  substance  under  consideration. 

In  the  preparation  for  the  study  of  this  possible  in  vivo  amination  of 
these  ring- substituted  natural  oils,  a  series  of  amphetamines  that  would  be 
the  result  of  such  an  addition  has  been  completed.  These  are  tabulated  in 
Table  IV,  showing  the  principle  natural  source  of  each  of  the  natural  oils,  the 
common  name  as  they  occur  in  the  allyl  (A)  or  propenyl  (P)  form,  the 
orientation  of  the  ring  substituents,  the  code  letter  abbreviation  of  the  result- 
ing base,  the  cogent  physical  and  chemical  data,  and  the  potency  of  the 
compound  in  mescaline  units.  The  latter  measure  is  defined  as  the  quotient 
of  the  effective  dose  of  mescaline  (assumed  to  be  3.75  mg/Kg  as  the  base) 
divided  by  the  effective  dose  of  the  substance  in  question,  as  determined  by 
human  titration.  This  ratio  permits  a  direct  comparison  of  relative  potencies, 
based  on  mescaline  equaling  one.  Mescaline  has  a  ring  substitution  pattern 
identical  with  number  6,  TMA,  except  that  the  side  chain  has  only  two 
carbons  instead  of  three. 

It  will  be  noted  that  several  of  the  possible  amphetamine  derivatives  of 
the  components  of  the  aromatic  fraction  of  nutmeg  do  not  appear  here: 


C  \cH2CHNH2- HCl 
R0^^=/  CH3 









0  OF 










(P)  Q  OF 



2,4  DMA 
















0  OF 










0,  OF 










0  OF 










0.  OF 










0.  OF 










0  OF 



T.tro  MA 







0.  OF 










0.  OF 











Table  IV. 


namely  those  which  contain  an  OH  substituent  in  addition  to  the  methoxyl 
groups.  These  comprise  some  5%  of  the  aromatic  fraction,  and  still  remain 
to  be  explored  in  the  human  subject,  either  as  purified  components  them- 
selves, or  as  their  amphetamine  extensions.  Should  the  free  hydroxyl  group 
of  any  of  these  several  materials  confer  an  unusually  high  psychotropic 
potency  on  any  of  these  compounds  or  on  the  corresponding  amphetamines, 
this  would  contribute  to  the  nutmeg  intoxication  beyond  the  explanations 
considered  here.  Eugenol  itself  has  had  some  known  medical  uses  however, 
and  it  would  seem  reasonable  to  expect  that  its  psychotropic  activity  would 
have  been  noted  had  it  existed. 

Published  detail  has  appeared  on  the  psychotropic  effects  in  normal  human 
subjects  for  the  four  compounds  that  are  trisubstituted,  numbers  5,  6,  7  and 
8  {10) .  In  every  case  the  compounds  had  a  greater  potency  than  that  of  the 
reference  substance  mescaline. 

The  base  that  corresponds  to  safrole,  number  4,  is  3,4-methylenedioxyam- 
phetamine,  or  MDA.  This  was  first  described  pharmacologically  by  Gordon 
Alles  {11)  who  reported  visual  effects  at  some  120  mg.  Subsequent  experi- 
ence {12)  on  a  more  extensive  number  of  subjects  has  shown  modest,  if  any, 
distortion  or  change  of  either  visual  or  auditory  perception,  but  rather  a 
pronounced  increase  in  emotional  effect,  which  has  proved  to  be  of  consid- 
erable value  in  psychotherapy. 

The  base  that  would  be  the  result  of  the  addition  of  anunonia  to  myristicin, 
number  8,  is  3-methoxy-4,5-methylenedioxyamphetamine,  or  MMDA.  A 
complete  description  of  the  animal  and  human  pharmacology  and  psycho- 
pharmacology  of  this  compound  is  forthcoming  {13).  With  regard  to  the 
work  mentioned  earlier  in  which  400  mg.  of  myristicin  was  tested  in  human 
subjects,  the  experience  with  MMDA  indicates  that  the  effects  although 
identifiable  in  a  psychotherapeutic  setting,  or  in  subjects  trained  to  identify 
psychotropic  effects,  are  rather  subtle  and  may  not  have  been  detected  by 
the  psychological  tests  used  in  the  study.  The  psychotropic  effects  of  MMDA 
are  rather  similar  to  those  of  MDA,  but  in  addition  some  30%  of  the  sub- 
jects reported  rather  vivid  and  well  structured  visual  images  appearing 
when  the  eyes  are  closed,  although  there  are  virtually  no  changes  in  eyes-open 
perception.  The  possibility  that  myristicin  in  the  amounts  present  in  nutmeg 
may  contribute  to  the  total  effects  of  nutmeg,  cannot  at  this  point  be 

The  base  that  corresponds  to  number  6  is  3,4,5-trimethoxyamphetamine, 
TMA.  This  has  been  known  as  a  psychotropic  agent  for  some  time  (1^,  10a) . 
It  has  variously  been  described  as  having  potent  hallucinatory  effects  and 
as  leading  to  apparently  hostile  reactions.  More  extensive  appraisal  of  this 
compound  in  psychotherapeutic  settings  has  confirmed  the  eyes-opened  dis- 
tortions and  occasional  hallucinatory  phenomena,  and  strongly  suggests  that 
its  characteristic  property  is  one  of  causing  projection,  in  the  psychological 
sense,  by  the  subject.  This  can  produce  visual  distortions,  delusions  (altera- 
tions in  social  perceptions),  and  sometimes  apparently  hostile  projections 
which,  however,  have  never  led  to  any  overt  actions. 


The  analogous  bases  that  correspond  to  the  eugenols  have  not  yet  been 
evaluated,  and  as  mentioned  earlier  represent  another  group  of  compounds 
that  could  contribute  to  the  activity  of  nutmeg. 

There  are  two  ways  in  which  further  investigations  might  be  pursued; 
namely  human  evaluation  of  the  individual  compounds  of  the  aromatic 
fraction  of  the  oil  of  nutmeg,  preferably  synthetically  derived  to  avoid  con- 
tamination, and  secondly,  the  further  evaluation  of  the  effects  of  the  amine 
derivitives.  It  is  entirely  possible  that  the  combination  of  the  amines  deriv- 
able from  the  essential  oil  aromatics  could  produce  the  psychological  effects 
of  nutmeg,  while  the  clearly  toxic  effects  could  be  due  to  the  terpene  frac- 
tion. Human  evaluation  of  a  mixture  of  these  amines,  in  the  proportions 
found  in  nutmeg,  would  explore  the  possibility  of  any  synergistic  amplifica- 
tion of  the  activity  of  these  compounds.  A  corollary  study  would  involve 
the  chemical  investigation  of  the  metabolic  fate  of  both  the  essential  oils  and 
the  derived  amines,  on  administration  to  human  subjects,  and  may  clarify 
whether  or  not  these  oils  are  in  fact  converted  to  amines  in  vivo.  From  the 
results  of  these  studies,  it  is  hoped  that  the  interrelationship  between  the 
complex  composition,  and  the  yet  more  complex  psychopharmacological  struc- 
ture of  nutmeg,  can  be  resolved. 


(1)  "Essential  Oil  from  the  Leaves  of  Nutmeg  (Myristica  fragrans  Houtt.)",  Th.  M. 

Meyer.  Ing.  Nederland.-Indie  8  No.  1  VH  7-8  (1941).  (CA  35  :  4549*). 

(2)  "The  Constituents  of  the  Expressed  Oil  of  Nutmeg",  F.  B.  Power  and  A.  H.  Sal- 

way,  J.  Chem.  Soc,  93:  1653  (1908). 

(3)  "Trimyristin",  O.  D.  Beal,  Org.  Syn.,  Coll.  Vol.  I.,  Second  Edition  p.  538  (1941). 

(4)  "Application  of  Gas  Chromatography  to  a  Study  of  Nutmeg  Oil  Flavor",  G.  D.  Lee, 

F.  L.  KaufEman,  J.  W.  Harlan  and  W.  Niezabitowski,  Intern.  Gas  Chrom.  Symp., 
I.S.A.  Proc.  301  (1961). 

(5)  "The  Constituents  of  the  Essential  Oil  of  Nutmeg",  F.  B.  Power  and  A.  W.  Salway, 

J.  Chem.  Soc,  91 :  2037  (1907). 

(6)  "Gas  Chromatographic  Analysis  of  Oil  of  Nutmeg",  E.  A.  Bejnarowicz  and  E.  F. 

Kirch,  J.  Pharm.  Sci.,  53  :  988  (1963) . 

(7)  "The  Pharmacology  of  Myristicin,  A  Contribution  to  the  Psychopharmacology  of 

Nutmeg",  E.  B.  Truitt,  Jr.,  E.  Callaway  III,  M.  C.  Braude,  and  J.  C.  Krantz,  Jr., 
J.  Neuropsych.  2 :  205  (1961) . 

(8)  "Possible  Implication  of  Myristicin  as  a  Psychotropic  Substance",  A.  T.  Shulgin, 

Nature  210 :  380  (1966). 
(5)  C.  F.  Barfknecht,  University  of  Idaho  (personal  communication). 
{10)  a.  "The  Psychotomimetic  Properties  of  3,4,5-Trimethoxyamphetamine",  A.  T. 
Shulgin,  S.  Bunnell  and  T.  Sargent,  Nature,  189:  1011  (1961)  ;  6.  "3-Methoxy-4, 
5-Methylenedioxyamphetamine,  a  New  Psychotomimetic  Agent",  A.  T.  Shulgin, 
Nature  201:  1120  (1964);  c.  "Psychotomimetic  Amphetamines;  Methoxy  3,4- 
dialkoxyamphetamines",  Experientia  20  :  366  (1964). 

(11)  "Some  Relations  between  Chemical  Structures  and  Physiological  Action  of  Mes- 

caline and  Belated  Compounds."  G.  A.  AUes,  in  Neuropharmacology,  The  Josiah 
Macy  Jr.  Foundation,  Madison  Printing  Co.,  Inc.,  1959. 

(12)  "The  Psychological  Effects  of  3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine   (MDA)  Intoxi- 

cation." C.  Naranjo,  T.  Sargent  and  A.  T.  Shulgin  (in  preparation). 


"The  Chemistry  and  Pharmacology  of  3-Methosy-4,5-methyleiiedioxyamphetamrne 
(MMDA)."  A  Monograph.  C.  Xaranjo,  T.  Sargent  and  A.  T.  Shnlgin  (in 
preparation ) . 

{14)  "A  New  Hallucinogen :  3,4.5-Trimethoxyphenyl-(3-aminopropane,  with  notes  on  the 
stroboscopic  phenomenon."  D.  I.  Peretz.  J.  R.  Smythies  and  W.  C.  Gibson.  J. 
Mental  Sci.,  101:  316  (1955). 


The  Pharmacology  of  Myristicin 
and  Nutmeg 

Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 

Battelle  Memorial  Institute,  Columbus,  Ohio 

The  long  history  of  observations  concerning  the  pronounced  psychotropic 
effect  of  Myristica  fragrans  (nutmeg)  has  not  gone  unnoticed  by  many  dis- 
tinguished investigators,  including  some  famous  pharmacologists.  A  central 
problem  in  the  pharmacology  of  nutmeg  has  been  identification  of  the  active 
component  of  the  crude  drug.  As  early  as  1676,  van  Leeuwenhoek,  the  origi- 
nal microscopist  noted  that  a  volatile  component  which  evolved  from  pieces 
of  nutmeg  in  a  glass  tube  repelled  or  killed  mites.  {1)  Although  Warburg, 
as  late  as  1897,  still  expressed  doubt  {^)  it  was  clear  by  then  that  the  volatile 
fraction,  the  oil  of  nutmeg,  was  more  toxic  than  the  crude  drug.  The  well- 
known  English  pharmacologist,  Cushny,  stated  that  the  residue  from  which 
the  volatile  oil  has  been  removed  has  no  effect  upon  animals.  {3)  In  our  early 
studies  at  Maryland,  we  confirmed  this  observation  by  human  testing  of  a 
steam-distilled  residue  and  noted  only  gastrointestinal  effects.  (^) 

Another  pharmacologist,  George  Wallace,  used  the  highest  distillate  frac- 
tion (149°C,  14  mm),  which  he  found  to  be  the  most  active  and  easily  ad- 
ministered component,  and  observed  that  the  cat  was  the  most  susceptible 
species  among  the  mammalia  to  the  toxic  action  of  the  drug.  (5)  Both  Wal- 
lace and,  a  year  later,  Jurss  {6)  correctly  attributed  the  high  toxicity  to 
hepatic  fatty  degeneration,  but  the  cat  is  also  most  sensitive  to  the  central 
excitation,  tremor,  salivation,  and  stupor  produced  by  oil  of  nutmeg.  Sir 
Henry  Dale  in  1907  most  clearly  differentiated  the  primary  psychotropic 
effect  from  the  secondary  hepatic  coma  causing  death  in  cats.  (7)  AJthough 
he  noted,  as  others  had,  that  the  oil  required  a  higher  myristicin  amount 
than  the  crude  drug  in  order  to  produce  symptoms.  Dale  attributed  this  to 
absorption  difficulties  with  the  purified  product.  Power  and  Salway,  re- 
examining the  question  in  1908,  concurred  that  myristicin  was  probably  re- 
sponsible for  the  central  effect,  but  was  unfavorable  for  absorption  in  the 
pure  state.  {8) 

Pharmacologic  interest  in  nutmeg  then  subsided  for  more  than  50  years, 
until  renewed  by  the  curiosity  of  Dr.  John  C.  Krantz  at  the  University  of 
Maryland  who  was  consulted  by  several  former  students  encountering  cases 
of  nutmeg  intoxication.  {If)  This  study  was  conducted  with  a  myristicin- 
containing  fraction  distilled  from  oil  of  nutmeg  at  145-155°C  and  15  mm 
Hg  pressure.  Subsequent  gas-chromatographic  studies  by  Shulgin  have 
shown  this  to  be  a  mixture  of  myristicin  with  elemicin  and  perhaps  a  small 
amount  of  methylisoeugenol.  {9) 

Initial  studies  on  the  pharmacologic  action  of  myristicin  and  nutmeg 
which  were  conducted  at  the  University  of  Maryland  sought  to  answer 


a  variety  of  questions.  {4)  Toxicity  studies  showed  that  the  East  Indian 
spice  was  more  toxic  than  a  West  Indian  product.  Animal  toxicity  deter- 
minations before  and  after  steam  distillation  also  confirmed  Cushny's  origi- 
nal observation  that  the  volatile  fraction  was  more  toxic  than  the  residue  (3) 
In  planning  for  human  administration  of  a  dose  of  the  myristicin-elemicin 
fraction  amounting  to  400  mg  per  subject,  a  chronic  study  in  rats  was  con- 
ducted and  showed  no  growth  inhibition  at  a  daily  dose  of  10  mg/kg. 

A  stimulant  effect  of  myristicin  was  demonstrated  by  a  shortening  effect 
of  the  oil  fraction  on  barbiburate  sleeping  time.  These  data  are  shown  in 
Table  1. 

Table  1. — The  effect  of  myristicin  on  the  sleeping  time  induced  by  phenobarbital  in  the  rat 




p  value 

Phenobarbital  120  mg/kg  I.  P  

162  min 

±5.  31 

Phenobarbital  120  mg/kg  I.  P.  plus  100  mg/kg 

myristicin  I.  P                              _  _ 

144  min 

±2.  27 

<0.  01 

The  intravenous  injection  of  large  doses  in  the  order  50-76  mg/kg  to 
dogs,  monkeys,  and  cats  confirmed  the  feline  species  toxicity  and  showed 
clearly  that  tranquilization  of  wildness  is  not  produced  in  the  jungle-bred 
monkey.  It  is  of  interest  that  the  product  was  hypotensive  in  the  dog  as  are 
other  monamine  oxidase  inhibitors.  These  intravenous  injections  were  sus- 
pensions of  the  oily  substance  in  acacia  solution.  More  recently  a  stable 
emulsion  has  been  achieved  having  the  following  composition: 


Myristicin   1.0 

Pluronic  F-68   0.3 

Dextrose    4.2 

Ethyl  alcohol   1.0 

Distilled  water  qs  100.0 

Using  this  formula,  mice  were  injected  into  the  dorsal  tail  vein  with  doses 
of  100  mg/kg.  Within  1  to  2  minutes,  loss  of  righting  reflex  and  apparent 
sedation  appeared. 

One  contribution  to  the  metabolism  of  myristicin  has  recently  evolved 
from  interest  in  its  synergistic  effect  upon  other  insecticides.  Casida  and  his 
associates  have  shown  that  the  methlyenedioxy  bridge  is  the  initial  point  of 
metabolic  attack  by  hepatic  microsomes  and  requires  NADPHo  (10). 
This  reaction  is  shown  in  Figure  1.  This  metabolic  transformation  increases 
the  chemical  similarity  of  myristicin  to  the  catecholamines. 

The  structural  resemblences  of  myristicin  to  mescaline  and  epinephrine 
prompted  studies  directed  at  measuring  competitive  inhibition  of  myristicin 
to  other  monoamine  oxidase  substrates.  The  method  of  Tedeschi  et  al,  (11) 
was  employed  for  estimation  of  monoamine  oxidase  (MAO)  inhibition  by 
potentiation  of  the  central  convulsant  action  of  tryptamine  HCl.  A  0.5% 



CH2— CH— 






■i>   HCOOH  + 






*  C-"^  labeled 

Fig.  1. — Major  metabolic  pathway  for  methylene       dioxyphenyl  labeled  myristicin  in 
liver  microsomal  systems  of  the  mouse.  (Modified  from  Casida,  et  al.  (10).) 

solution  was  injected  intravenously  into  10  mice  per  dose  level.  Three  seconds 
or  more  of  clonic  jerking,  tremors,  and/or  side-to-side  head  movements  were 
the  endpoint  criteria  used  to  calculate  the  CD  50  from  dose-response  lines  by 
the  method  of  Eubin  et  al.  (13)  in  rats,  scoring  both  eyes  on  a  5-point  scale. 
Cerebral  6-hydroxytryptamine  was  measured  by  the  Mead  and  Finger  modi- 
fication {14-)  of  the  method  of  Bogdanski  et  al.  (15) 

No  apparent  effect  was  evident  from  the  drug  vehicles  on  the  CD  50  of 
tryptamine  (Table  2).  When  given  orally  18  hours  in  advance.  East  Indian 
ground  nutmeg  gave  some  evidence  of  tryptamine  potentiation  (Figure  2). 
The  optimum  dose  was  500  mg/kg.  However,  a  much  larger  dose,  1000 
mg/kg  showed  reversal  of  the  activity. 

Several  samples  of  synthetic  myristicin  ^  were  tested  by  the  tryptamine  po- 
tentiation test  18  hours  after  their  oral  administration.  These  results  are 
shown  in  Figure  3.  Both  of  these  preparations  showed  considerable  activity 
when  the  sample  was  fresh  and  lemon  yellow  in  color.  Later  tests  (not  shown) 
after  the  liquid  had  turned  to  a  light  amber  color  consistently  showed  a  con- 
siderable decline  in  tryptamine  potentiation.  These  deteriorated  solutions 
when  studied  by  gas  chromatography  showed  the  appearance  of  an  unknown 
component  in  addition  to  the  myristicin. 

Tlie  distilled  concentrate  of  oil  of  nutmeg  was  much  less  active  than  the 
synthetic  myristicin  and,  like  ground  nutmeg,  reversed  its  activity  with  a 

1  Synthetic  myristicin  was  kindly  made  available  by  Dr.  Carl  D.  Lunsford,  A.  H.  Robins  Company, 
Richmond,  Virginia. 


262-016  0-67— 16 



Table  2. —  Tryptamine  convulsion  test  for  monoamine  oxidase  inhibition  inv^o  Summary 

of  control  tests 



Vehicle-18  hr 
prior,  cc/kg 


95 'J,  confi- 
denct  limits, 


.  yj 

1 0 . 4— 4U . 0 

( I 





I  i 


Liq.  pet. 





















LOG  DOSE  -  TRYPTAMINE,  mg./kg. 

Fig.  2. — Effect  of  ground  nutmeg  on  tryptamine  convulsive  threshold  in  mice  when 

given  orally  in  acacia  suspension  18  hr  before  test:  X  X  Control,  CD50  mg/kg 

(±95%  confidence  limits)  25.0  (15.2-41.0);  Q  200  O  200  mg/kg  nutmeg,  20.0 

(14.2-28.2);  H  500  h    500  mg/kg  nutmeg,    14.0   (10.1-19.5);  A  1000  A 

1000  mg/kg  nutmeg,  23.0  (16.1-32.9). 

large  dose  (Figure  3).  Gas-chromatographic  analysis  of  this  oil  showed  the 
presence  of  volatile  components  similar  to  groimd  nutmeg,  but  no  increased 
concentration  of  the  myristicin,  as  expected  from  the  selected  distillation 

-  These  analyses  and  supplies  of  ground  nutmeg  were  kindly  furnished  by  Dr.  William  K.  Stahl, 
McCormick  and  Company,  Baltimore,  Maryland. 


LOG  DOSE  -   TRYPTAMINE,  ing./kg. 

Fig.  3. — Effect  of  synthetic  myristicin  samples  and  oil  of  nutmeg  concentrate  on  trypta- 
mine  convulsive  threshold  in  mice  when  given  orally  in  acacia  suspension  18  hr  before 

test:  X  X  Control,  CD50  mg/kg  (±95%  confidence  limits)  25.0  (15.2-41.0); 

O  O  Myristicin  sample  1  at  500  mg/kg,  8.7  (5.7-13.4);  O —  .   .   •   O  myristicin 

sample  2  at  500  mg/kg,  14.0  (9.3-21.0);  oil  of  nutmeg  concentrate  500 

mg/kg,  20.5  (14.5-28.9);  H  h  oil  of  nutmeg  concentrate  —  1000  mg/kg,  27.0 


In  Figure  4  the  slope  and  activity  of  the  best  tryptamine  assay  for  myois- 
bicin  is  compared  to  tranylcypromine  and  iproniazid.  All  three  drugs  were 
administered  orally  18  hours  before  the  test.  It  may  be  seen  that  myristicin 
is  less  potent  but  parallel  to  the  comparative  drugs.  Saf  role,  isoborneol,  and 
geraniol,  which  are  other  volatile  components  of  nutmeg,  did  not  cause  po- 
tentiation of  tryptamine  in  doses  up  to  1  g/kg  despite  obvious  signs  of  hyper- 
activity and  excitement  in  the  mice. 

In  Figure  5  the  antagonism  of  reserpine  ptosis  in  rats  was  used  to  study 
variations  in  dose  and  time  for  myristicin  activity.  Myristicin  appears 
to  be  less  active  in  the  rat.  Comparable  activity  to  other  MAO  inhibitors  was 
obtained  only  with  the  largest  dose  17  hours  after  oral  administration. 

Myristicin  treatment  of  six  rats  increased  brain  5 -hydroxy trptamine  from 
control  values  averaging  0.48  (±  0.05)  Mg/g  to  0.82  (±  0.03)  /xg/g  when 
given  in  an  oral  dose  of  1  g/kg;  the  difference  was  statistically  significant 
(p  <0.001) .  Lower  doses  were  not  significantly  active. 

A  further  test  of  an  hypothesis  of  monoamine  oxidase  inhibition  was  con- 
ducted using  the  kynuramine  disappearance  rate  in  brain  homogenates  as 


0.5  1.0  1.5  2.0 

Fig.  4. — Effect  of  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitors  and  synthetic  myristicin  on  tryptamine 
convulsive  thresholds  in  mice  when  given  orally  in  acacia  suspension  18  hr  before 

test:  X  X  Control,  CDjo  mg/kg  (±95%  confidence  limits)  25.0  (15.2-41.0); 

O  O  150  mg/kg  iproniazid,  10.4  (8.8-12.2);  A.  .  .  .A  4  mg/kg  tranyleypromine, 

5.8  (4.4^7.7);  +-  .  .  .  +  500  mg/kg,  8.7  (5.7-13.4). 

described  by  Weissbach  et  al.  {16)  The  results  of  this  test  are  shown  in 
Table  3.  Slight  inhibition  was  found  in  the  mouse  but  not  in  the  rat-brain 
preparation.  One  year  after  these  data  were  obtained,  the  same  ground- 
nutmeg  source  was  completely  inactive  in  the  mouse  as  well,  and  the  declin- 
ing activity  was  attributed  to  a  loss  of  volatile  components  owing  to  a  nearby 


Although  the  myristicin  fraction  from  oil  of  nutmeg  originally  used  in 
these  experiments  might  not  represent  100  percent  myristicin,  both  this  and 
elemicin  most  likely  produce  similar  actions.  The  potency  of  myristicin  is 
not  adequate  in  most  of  these  tests  to  account  for  the  full  action  of  nutmeg. 
The  insufficiency  is  present  with  intravenous  doses  and  therefore  poor  absorp- 
tion is  not  a  likely  explanation.  More  rapid  biodegradation  of  purified  myris- 
ticin in  contrast  to  its  slow  release  from  nutmeg  might  suggest  a  greater 
efficiency  of  the  crude  drug. 

These  data  demonstrate  a  mild  degree  of  monoamine  oxidase  inhibition  by 
a  variety  of  tests.  The  low  potency  of  myristicin  in  comparison  to  tranylcy- 
promine, a  potent  inhibitor,  is  in  keeping  with  the  large  doses  required  for 
in  vivo  activity.  The  tryptamine  potentiation  test,  although  indirect,  has  been 


shown  to  correlate  with  other  in  vivo  assays.  (17)  It  is  quite  likely  that  al- 
though myristicin  displaces  kynuramine  from  MAO  with  difficulty,  it  still 
may  show  inhibiting  activity. 

The  main  virtue  of  these  data  may  be  to  reawaken  interest  in  myristicin 
and  its  activity.  Low  activity  of  a  prolonged  nature,  such  as  that  shown  by 
nutmeg,  is  sometimes  a  more  useful  drug  attribute  than  high  potency  and 
rapid  onset.  An  important  question  remains  to  determine  if  the  myristicin 
stimulation  is  inevitably  followed  by  depressed  feelings,  even  upon  continued 
intake.  Work  is  indicated  to  improve  absorption,  and  further  pharmacologic 
studies  are  needed  to  define  a  proper  course  of  treatment  for  nutmeg  intoxi- 


A  myristicin-elemicin  fraction  of  oil  of  nutmeg  produces  many  of  the 
characteristics  of  crude  ground  nutmeg,  but  lacks  adequate  potency  to  ex- 
plain the  nutmeg  intoxication  syndrome  on  a  quantitative  basis.  Nutmeg  and 




uj  60- 






J2  30 



^  20 



MYBISTICIN-500m)  /IJ   1  P 

PARNATE  -4iHa  nij  ,1  P 






Fig.  5. — Effect  of  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitors  and  various  schedules  of  myristicin  on 
reserpine  ptosis  in  rats.  Ptosis  score:  0  =  Eyelid  fully  open — 5  =  Eyelid  fully  closed. 
Maximum  score  =  10/rat  (both  eyes).  Group  ptosis  score  (%) 
_No.  rats/group  X  Max  score/rat 

Sum  of  group  eyelid  scores 

X  100. 


Table  3. — The  effect  of  ground  West  Indian  nutmeg  on  brain  monoamine  oxidase  (MAO) 
activity  in  mice  and  rats  measured  by  the  kynuramine  (Kyn)  method  of  Weissbach,  etal. 



juM-ynK/mg/hr  X  lO-^o 


Nutmeg  treated 

percent  of  control 



3.  64±  0.013 


78.  0±4.  2% 



4.  74±0.  18 


104.  0±5.  5% 

"  Micromoles  of  kynuramine/mg  of  brain  (wet  weight) /hour  x  10~3. 
h  18  hours  after  600  mg/kg— mice  or  1000  mg/kg— rat,  P.O. 

the  synthetically  made  myristicin  demonstrate  a  mild  degree  of  monoamine 
oxidase  inhibiting  activity  by  in  vitro  and  in  vivo  tests.  Activity  of  this  syn- 
thetic product  declines  with  aging  accompanied  by  color  change.  Monoamine 
oxidase  inhibition  and  other  actions  of  crude  extracts  depend  upon  the  vola- 
tile component. 


(1)  Hanzlik,  p.  J.,  "Purkinje's  Pioneer  Self-experiments  in  Psychopharmacology," 

California  and  Western  Medicine,  44 : 1,  July-August,  1938. 

(2)  Waebukg,  O.  "Die  Muskatnuss"  Leipzig,  1897. 

{3)  CusHNY,  A.  R.,  "Nutmeg  Poisoning."  Proceedings  of  the  Royal  Society  of  Medicine 
39: 1(3),  1908. 

(4)  Tetjitt,  E.  B.,  Jr.  E.  Callaway,  III,  M.  C.  Braude,  and  J.  C.  Keantz  Jr.,  Journal  of 

Neuropsychiatry,  2  :  205, 1961. 

(5)  Wallace,  G.  B.,  In  Contributions  to  Medical  Research,  Vaughn,  Ann  Arbor,  Mich- 

igan, 1903,  pp.  351-364. 

(6)  JuESS,  F.,  "On  Myristicin  and  Some  Closely  Related  Substances,"  Berlchte,  Schim- 

mel  &  Company,  Leipzig,  1904. 

(7)  Dale,  H.  H.,  Proceedings  of  the  Royal  Society  of  Medicine,  23  :  69, 1909. 

(8)  PowEE,  F.  B.  and  A.  H.  Sal  way,  American  Journal  of  Pharmacology,  80,  563-580, 


(5 )  Shulgin,  a.  T.,  Nature  ( Lond. ) ,  197 :  379, 1968. 

(10)  Casida,  J.  E.,  J.  L.  Engel,  F.  G.  Esaac,  F.  X.  Kamieuski,  and  Kxjwatsuda.  Science, 

153 :  1130-1133, 1966. 

(11)  Tedeschi,  D.  H.,  R.  E.  Tedeschi,  E.  J.  Fellows,  Journal  Pharmacology  and  Ex- 

perimental Therapeutics,  126 :  223, 1959. 

(12)  Litchfield,  J.  T.,  and  F.  Wilcoxon.  ibid.,  96 :  99, 1949. 

(IS)  Rubin,  R.,  M.  H.  Malone,  M.  H.  Waugh,  and  J.  C.  Bukke.  120:  125,  1957. 
(H)  Mead,  J.  A.  R.,  and  K.  F.  Fingee,  Biochemical  Pharmacology,  6 :  52,  1961. 

(15)  Bogdanski,  D.  F.,  a.  Pletschee,  B.  B.  Beodie,  and  S.  Udenfriend.  Journal  of  Phar- 

macology and  Experimental  Therapeutics,  117  :  82,  1956. 

(16)  Weissbach,  H.  V.  T.  E.  Smith,  J.  W.  Daly,  B.  Witkop,  and  S.  Udenfeiend.  Journal 

of  Biological  Chemistry,  235  : 1160-1163, 1950. 
(11)  Maxwell,  D.  R.,  W.  R.,  Geay,  and  E.  M.  Tayloe.  British  Journal  of  Pharmacology, 
17 :  310, 1961. 



Chairman — Edward  B.  Truitt,  Jr. 
Members  of  the  Panel — Claudio  Naranjo 

Thornton  Sargent 
Alexander  T.  Shulgin 
Andrer  T.  Weil 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  "We  might  begin  with  a  comment.  One  of  the 
guests  found  that  there  is  a  whole  state  in  our  fifty  in  the  Union  that  has 
a  reputation  for  nutmeg,  and  perhaps  he  would  like  to  make  his  comment 
again,  which  was  quite  interesting :  that  of  a  psychotogenic  substance  identi- 
fying a  state. 

Dr.  Phillips  (from  the  floor)  :  I  am  a  psychiatrist.  I  understand  that 
Connecticut  is  known  as  the  Nutmeg  State,  and  I  remember  when  I  was  in 
college  about  twenty  years  ago  there  was  some  reference  to  the  fact  that 
people  in  Connecticut  acted  awfully  crazy,  because  they  ate  so  much  nutmeg. 

Mr.  Weil:  I  am  afraid  the  origin  of  Connecticut's  nickname  is  some- 
what less  romatic.  In  colonial  times,  Connecticut  traders  often  palmed  off 
carved  wooden  nutmegs  as  the  real  thing.  This  practice  was  considered  a 
fine  example  of  Yankee  shrewness  in  business;  consequently,  Connecticut 
acquired  the  name  "Nutmeg  State". 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  I  wonder  if  Dr.  Naranjo  would  like  to  discuss 
the  activity  of  the  compound  he  is  engaged  in  testing  ? 

Dr.  Naranjo:  This  amphetamine  substituted  with  the  methylenedioxy 
group  is  the  first  that  was  tested.  The  subjective  reactions  had  been  de- 
scribed by  Gordon  Alles  from  experimentation  on  himself.  It  was  first  used 
in  a  group  of  subjects  under  the  assumption  that  this  would  be  a  hallucinogen, 
as  suggested  by  Dr.  Alles.  This  did  not  appear  to  be  quite  the  case,  for  the 
drug  produced  only  enhancement  in  feelings.  In  the  face  of  this,  it  was  sug- 
gested that  it  could  be  used  as  facilitating  agent  in  psychotherapy.  It  is 
not  something  to  be  used  as  an  antidepressant,  but  only  to  increase  com- 
munication during  a  therapeutic  session. 

When  we  used  this  compound  on  patients  with  psychoneurotic  symptoms, 
we  saw  that  the  effects  were  sometimes  very  dramatic  in  an  unexpected  way. 
I  have  tried  several  drugs  to  facilitate  psychotherapy,  including  the  more 
widely  known  hallucinogens,  and  never  as  with  this  compound  has  there 
been  such  a  frequency  of  reminiscence  of  childhood  events,  in  a  very  dramatic 
and  spontaneous  way,  completely  unexpected  by  the  subjects. 

This  has  been  described  in  therapy  with  LSD  and  mescaline,  but  in  my 
own  experience  has  occurred  spontaneously  only  once  in  approximately 
fifty  experiences  with  LSD  (though  I  understand  that  if  a  therapist  searches 
for  this,  it  could  be  precipitated).  On  the  other  hand,  about  half  of  the 
persons  who  in  a  therapeutic  setting  took  this  compound,  (MDA),  had  this 
kind  of  experience  an  experience  with  almost  no  symbolic  content,  without 


the  aesthetic  or  mystical  overtones  that  is  so  characteristic  of  most  hallu- 

This  was  quite  rare  and,  in  turn,  there  was  the  experience  of  reminiscence. 
It  is  notable  that  in  many  of  the  subjects  there  was  amnesia  after  it,  and 
this  was  very  much  like  the  similar  events  that  take  place  sometimes  in  the 
hypnotic  trance.  In  two  instances  out  of  thirty,  at  least,  the  effects  were 
those  of  a  delirium,  and  in  one  of  these  there  was  erratic  behavior,  none 
of  which  was  remembered  afterwards. 

Now  with  the  trimethoxy  substituted  compound,  which  has  been  pre- 
viously described  as  evoking  hostile  reactions  when  we  used  this  in  a  thera- 
peutic setting,  this  did  not  occur  overtly ;  but  the  compound  was  remarkable 
in  that  the  delusional  content  was  more  frequent  that  with  any  of  the 
others  that  I  know.  This  delusional  content  was  very  often  paranoid. 

Chairman  Dr.  Trott  :  Could  I  ask  if  there  were  any  color  effects,  which 
are  characteristic  of  mescaline,  seen  with  it? 

Dr.  Naranjo:  This  produces  the  greatest  incidence  of  color  effects, 
whereas  the  previously  mentioned  one,  (MDA),  is  notable  for  the  absence 
of  distortions  and  color  effects. 

The  3-methoxy-4,5  methylenedioxyamphetamine,  (MMDA),  has  a  meth- 
ylenedioxy  bridge  in  common  with  MDA,  but  has  the  oxygen  substitution 
pattern  of  TJMA.  MMDA  produces  the  qualities  of  both,  and  what  is  typical 
of  this  substance  is  that  the  experience,  which  has  mostly  a  personal  quality, 
enhancement  of  feeling,  warmth,  but  very  little  symbolic  content,  makes 
it  different  from  mescaline. 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  There  is  one  point,  I  think,  that  many  people 
have  possibly  underestimated,  and  that  is  the  theoretical  importance 
of  this  aspect,  which  is  pointed  out  by  one  question  from  Dr.  Waser :  "What 
is  the  evidence  for  direct  amination  of  the  olefinic  side  chain  of  myristicin 
in  the  body?" 

Dr.  Shttlgin  :  Dr.  Sargent  mentioned  one  experiment  where  the  forma- 
tion of  amphetamine  in  rats  was  actually  observed.  Administration  of  allyl- 
benzene  led  to  chromatographically  distinct  spots,  with  the  strong  impli- 
cation that  these  spots  were  amphetamine.  Although  allylbenzene  may  be 
converted  to  propenylbenzene  first,  the  simple  addition  of  ammonia  to  the 
allyl  double  bond  would  be  the  most  direct  route.  I  don't  know  if  it  has 
any  validity. 

Chairsian  Dr.  Truitt:  We  have  a  related  question:  "Could  the 
transformation  of  a  non-saturated  aromatic  side  chain  to  a  carbonyl  group 
be  possible?" 

Dr.  Shttlgin:  I  don't  know  of  this  specific  transformation  having 
occurred.  Certainly  the  double  bond  can  participate  in  oxidation  reactions, 
and  substitution  isomers  have  been  converted  to  their  corresponding  acids 
in  the  body.  Therefore  the  double  bond  is  capable  of  being  oxidized,  or  at 
least  partially  oxidized. 

Chairjian  Dr.  Truitt:  We  have  two  questions  apparently  directed  to 
Mr.  Weil,  and  I  wonder  if  he  would  like  to  read  them  and  comment. 


Mr.  Weil,  :  The  first  one  is,  "What  are  the  comparative  psychoactivating 
potencies  of  nutmeg  and  mace  ?" 

They  are  the  same,  but  mystiques  about  the  uses  of  the  two  spices  have 
sprung  up.  It  is  interesting,  for  example,  that  at  Haverford  College  stu- 
dents believed  they  could  only  get  "high"  with  mace,  even  though  they  knew 
nutmeg  to  be  very  similar  in  taste.  Other  groups  use  nutmeg  only,  aaid  are 
unaware  of  mace  as  an  intoxicant. 

The  second  question  is,  "Do  other  kitchen  spices  have  any  psychoactive 

Who  knows?  Perhaps  in  five  years  we  will  have  a  symposium  just  on 
spices.  I  have  received  scattered  reports  on  the  use  of  cinnamon  for  these 
effects :  One  bit  of  information  is  that  cinnamon  sticks  are  smoked  by  cer- 
tain Indian  tribes  of  Mexico.  I  have  no  documentation  for  this  report. 

People  who  are  avid  for  experimenting  with  possibly  active  substances 
often  try  spices.  In  fact,  a  distant  friend  writes  that  anything  in  the  spice 
cabinet  except  monosodium  glutamate  will  get  you  "high".  Ginger,  paprika, 
cinnamon  and  pepper  have  all  been  said  to  have  effects  on  the  mind,  but 
we  have  no  reliable  evidence  on  them. 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt  :  We  really  must  resolve  the  action  of  somatic  input 
on  the  gastrointestinal  tract,  and  other  sources  on  the  psychic  effects  before 
we  accept  them,  too. 

I  am  a  little  chary  of  the  next  two  questions.  I  have  an  antagonistic  ques- 
tion from  Dr.  Efron,  and  a  protagonistic  question  from  Dr.  Kline. 

Dr.  Efron  (from  the  floor)  :  Being  a  pharmacologist,  I  would  like 
to  comment  on  the  phannacology  of  the  tested  compounds.  Dr.  Truitt  has 
really  done  an  excellent  pharmacological  job  but  I  have  some  small  objections. 

First,  in  my  opinion  the  psychopharmacology  testing  is  such  a  difficult 
one  that  we  never  can  use  one  or  two  tests.  One  has  to  use  a  battery  of  tests, 
and  even  then,  often  we  are  not  sure  what  they  mean. 

In  this  case,  you  have  put  all  your  chips  on  the  monoamine  oxidase 
inhibition.  If  this  would  be  really  the  only  action  of  these  drugs,  then  we 
should  forget  about  them,  because  we  have  much  more  potent  reversible  and 
irreversible  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitors  that  we  can  use. 

Further  about  the  test  that  you  used:  the  antagonism  to  reserpine,  we 
all  now  agree  that  it  is  not  valid  as  an  antidepressant  activity  measurement. 
It  was  used  for  tricyclic  types  of  drugs,  and  even  then  there  was  a.  question 
as  to  its  validity.  Is  there  a  correlation  between  this  test  and  the  activity  of 
nutmeg  ? 

The  other  problem  I  would  like  to  comment  on  is  that  I  really  don't  know 
why  everybody  is  working  with  myristicin,  the  compound  represented  mostly 
in  this  large  mixture  of  compounds  found  in  nutmeg  extracts.  There  might 
be  a  possibility  that  one  of  the  other  compounds  present  in  a  very  small 
amount  may  be  much  more  potent. 

The  next  thing  that  would  be  very  interesting  would  be  to  elucidate  for 
structural-activity  relationship,  and  to  see  the  activity  of  all  the  compounds 
in  some  battery  of  tests.  Then  we  really  could  see  how  the  location  of  one 


methyl  group,  adding  another  methyl  group  or  taking  one  off,  affects  the 
activity  of  the  compounds. 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  Thank  you  very  much,  Dr.  Efron.  I  fully  agree 
with  your  comments. 

Dr.  Kune:  Dr.  Efron's  remarks  are  as  a  pharmacologist;  mine  are  as  a 

The  anti-reserpine  part  of  the  story  is  the  one  I  am  protagonizing  for 
you.  A  very  curious  cycle  is  involved,  because  every  drug  which  has  been 
useful  in  the  treatment  of  schizophrenia  or  the  major  psychoses  has  pro- 
duced Parkinsonism  as  one  of  its  side  effects.  Another  part  of  the  curious 
business  is  that  the  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitors  or  other  antidepressants, 
if  given  in  large  enough  doses,  will  produce  hallucinations,  delusions  and 
uncontrolled  euphoria. 

All  this  woiild  seem  to  tie  somewhere  into  the  extrapyramidal  system. 
We  reviewed  this  problem  a  few  years  ago  with  Mettler,  and  although  there 
is  a  lot  of  presumptive  evidence,  one  cannot  yet  dra,w  a  comprehensive 
picture.  At  a  meeting  which  Dr.  Efron  chaired  last  year,  it  was  pointed  out 
that  tricyclic  antidepressants  reduce  the  frequency  of  extrapyramidal  side 
effects  from  phenothiazines  and  reserpine.  The  rats  and  mice  who  developed 
reserpine  depression  were  given  much  higher  doses  per  kilogram  than  we 
use  on  humans.  When  asked  how  one  judges  if  depression  is  present  in 
rats  and  mice,  the  answer  was  that  this  is  judged  upon  the  basis  of  reduced 
activity  and  reduced  "sociability" ;  i.e.  they  didn't  go  poking  around  at  each 
other.  Then  I  asked:  "What  about  Parkinsonism  in  the  rats  and  mice?" — 
and  I  discovered  to  my  amazement  that  the  animals  were  barely  able  to 
move  because  they  were  so  Parkinsonized.  What  was  called  depression  might 
simply  be  the  fact  that  the  animals  couldn't  get  to  sniff  their  neighbors.  The 
monoamine  inhibitors,  and  perhaps  the  tricycle  antidepressants,  act  as  anti- 
parkinsonian agents.  Professor  Holmstedt  mentioned  yesterday  that  Lewin 
has  found  harmine,  a  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitor,  useful  in  the  treatment 
of  Parkinsonism. 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt  :  I  heartily  agree  with  you.  Dr.  Kline,  because  you 
recognize  our  problems  in  the  laboratory.  We  have  a  great  deal  of  difficulty 
in  defining  these  parameters,  isolating  them,  and  analyzing  them.  Cer- 
tainly I  would  be  the  first  to  disclaim  that  we  can  extrapolate  easily 
this  way  from  a  test  to  the  whole  animal.  When  we  speak  of  the 
appearance  of  tremor  and  absence  of  tremor  or  antagonism  of  tremor,  we 
are  dealing  with  a  fairly  precise  parameter.  Wlien  we  are  speaking  of  emo- 
tional effects  rising  and  falling,  we  are  speaking  of  a  complex  set  of  behavior 
changes  that  we  ha,ve  a  healthy  respect  for. 

A  couple  of  other  related  questions  that  might  follow  Dr.  Kline's.  This 
is  from  Dr.  Buckley:  "Does  myristicin  have  anticholinergic  activity?" 

Only  in  the  respect  that  generally  anticholinergic  activity  in  the  CNS  is 
in  some  ways  similar  to  potentiation  of  adrenergic  activity.  We  have  not 
specifically  tested  this  in  any  respect. 

"Does  myristicin  inhibit  adrenergic  reuptake  of  norepinephrine  by  the 
nerve  endings?" 


This  is  postulated  as  the  mechanism  of  action  for  the  tricyclic  antidepres- 
sants. This  hypothesis  is  too  new  for  our  consideration.  If  it  is,  perhaps  a 
combination  of  a  weak  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitor,  such  as  nutmeg,  and 
the  trycyclic  agents,  might  be  of  interest. 

Going  to  the  more  physical  aspects,  we  have  a  question  from  Dr.  Beavers, 
concerning  the  effects  of  nutmeg  on  blood  pressure  in  human  subjects,  and 
asking  whether  we  have  any  evidence  of  monoamine  oxidase  inhibitors  either 
increasing  or  decreasing  effects  of  nutmeg  in  humans.  We  certainly  need  to 
know  more  about  this.  Dr.  Naranjo,  have  you  done  blood  pressure  examina- 
tions with  the  compound  ? 

Dk.  Naranjo:  There  is  slight  variation  in  blood  pressure.  There  is  occa- 
sionally an  increase  but  this  is  not  consistent,  and  it  is  hard  to  evaluate 
to  what  extent  the  observed  changes  are  secondary  to  the  emotional  states, 
for  sometimes  anxiety  is  a  prominent  component  of  the  induced  reaction. 

No  lowering  of  blood  pressure  has  been  observed.  This  is  in  contradiction  to 
the  observations  on  some  persons  who  experienced  intoxication  with  nutmeg. 

Chairman  Dr.  Trupit  :  Dr.  Leake  has  a  question. 

Dr.  Leake:  I  want  to  amplify  a  point  made  by  Dr.  Efron.  This  con- 
cerns the  systematic  investigation  of  all  of  the  phenyl  amines.  This  actually 
was  Dr.  Gordon  Alles'  undertaking,  as  you  know.  One  extremely  important 
feature  of  it  I  would  recommend  to  all  workers  in  the  field.  It  bears  on  some 
of  the  reports  that  were  made  today.  Even  though  chemical  compounds  in  a 
series  are  very  close,  insofar  as  their  molecular  weights  are  concerned,  Gordon 
Alles  insisted  on  using  equal  molecular  concentrations  so  as  to  compare  each 
drug  with  the  other  on  a  molecular  basis.  This  is  important,  particular  when 
there  is  any  significant  difference  in  molecular  weight. 

Alles  had  an  enormous  amount  of  material  that  has  never  been  published, 
and  I  don't  know  whether  it  will  be.  He  made  a  methylenedioxy  derivative 
of  an  amphetamine,  in  which  he  found  extraordinary  enhancement  of  audi- 
tory sensation.  This  he  did  describe  informally  at  one  of  the  Macy  Confer- 
ences. This  compound  produced  another  remarkable  effect:  if  he  were  to 
strike  his  finger,  he  could  see  the  strike,  and  feel  it  afterwards  by  a  definitive 
period  of  time. 

Dr.  Shtjlgin  :  That  was  the  methylenedioxyamphetamine  compound  that 
we  called  MDA  earlier. 

Dr.  Leake  :  He  made  similar  observations  of  this  sort  on  other  com- 
pounds. Since  he  had  them  all  on  an  equal  molecular  basis,  and  since  he  did 
most  of  the  experimentation  on  himself  as  one  subject,  at  least  his  findings 
had  that  comparative  validity. 

Dr.  Marrazzi  (from  the  floor)  :  In  line  with  what  is  being  said,  and 
the  comparison  with  mescaline,  I  thought  you  might  be  interested  in  the 
comparison  that  we  have  been  making  of  methoxyphenylethyl  amines,  using 
cortical  synaptic  inhibition.  At  the  moment  it  looks  like  mescaline  (a  tri- 
methoxy  compound),  would  have  a  potency  of  1,  the  dimethoxyphenylethyl- 
amine  of  1.8,  while  the  demethylated  or  dihydroxyphenylethylamine,  dopa- 
mine, would  have  a  potency  of  10. 


This  is  reminiscent  of  the  old  work  of  Gunn,  which  showed  that  the  meth- 
oxylation  has  a  muzzeling  action,  decreasing  activity.  Apparently  in  pre- 
liminary data  it  seems  to  decrease  cortical  inhibitory  activity. 

Chairman  Dr.  Trtjitt  :  How  much  do  you  think  this  variation  in  activity 
is  due  to  rate  of  transfer  across  the  blood-brain-barrier,  and  how  much  to  the 
differences  in  actual  potency  ? 

Dr.  Marrazzi:  I  am  not  able  to  answer  that.  These  are  closearterial 
injections,  and  the  latency  of  beginning  action  is  approximately  the  same. 
It  should  be  measured  more  carefully  than  I  have  done  so  far,  but  there  is 
no  remarkable  difference,  which  would  suggest  that  it  is  not  a  difference  in 
passing  through  the  blood-brain-barrier. 

Chairman  Dr.  Trtjitt  :  We  have  a  question  directed  to  Dr.  Shulgin  and 
Dr.  Sargent:  "Could  you  describe  your  human  bioassay  methods  further?" 

Dr.  Shulgin  :  The  human  bioassay  follows  a  preliminary  pharma- 
cological and  pharmacodynamic  analysis  of  the  investigated  material  on 
animals.  Generally,  three  species,  the  mouse,  the  rat  and  the  dog,  are  used. 
Most  of  the  cardiovascular  work  is  done  on  the  dog.  The  compounds  were 
then  assayed  within  our  experimental  group.  The  human  threshhold  level 
was  established  by  successively  increasing  the  dose  in  small  increments  until 
this  level  was  reached.  This  testing  and  the  subsequent  psychopharma- 
cologic  comparisons  of  the  several  compounds  were  done  essentially  by  the 
"double  conscious"  method  of  Alles.  (see  our  reference  10) . 

Dr.  Sargent:  I  would  like  to  comment  on  the  remarks  of  Dr.  Efron 
and  Dr.  Leake,  as  far  as  the  structure-activity  relationship  studies  go. 

Actually  this  was  originally  Dr.  Shulgin's  and  my  interest  in  investigating 
these  compounds,  and  we  could  perhaps  elaborate  a  little  bit  on  one  of  the 
slides  in  which  two  other  substituted  phenylisopropylamines  are  mentioned, 
the  precursors  of  which  are  not  present  in  nutmeg.  They  were  tested  speci- 
fically to  measure  the  effect  of  the  orientation  of  these  methoxy  groups. 

Our  scale  in  mescaline  units  is  the  same  as  Dr.  Leake's.  However,  we  assign 
some  of  the  numbers  a  little  differently  from  his.  We  grade  LSD  as  3000  in 
mescaline  units,  the  effect  dose  being  a  tenth  of  a  milligram. 

Dr.  Leake  :  You  understand  that  my  grading  was  off  the  cuff. 

Dr.  Sargent:  I  might  mention  in  regard  to  the  previous  discussion 
of  Parkinson  effects  of  harmine  and  harmaline,  these  compounds  are  also 
hallucinogenic.  To  get  back  to  the  structure- activity  relationships  of  these 
methoxy-substituted  amphetamines,  which  are  summarized  in  our  figure  7, 
note  that  when  the  structure  of  TMA  with  the  3,4,5-methoxy  substitutions  is 
changed  to  2,4,5-,  or  TMA-2,  the  activity  in  humans  of  the  compounds  is  in- 
creased tenfold.  Again,  when  the  structure  of  the  3-methoxy-4,5-methylene- 
dioxy  compound,  MMDA,  is  changed  to  2-methoxy-3,4-methylenedioxy  or 
MMDA-3a,  the  activity  is  again  increased,  this  time  by  a  factor  of  6.  In  both 
cases,  the  change  of  a  methoxy  group  from  a  meta-  to  an  ortho-position 
markedly  increased  the  potency  of  the  compound.  The  more  active  compounds 
are  derived  from  croweacin  and  asarone,  which  occur  in  natural  oils  but  not 
oil  of  nutmeg. 


Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  We  have  one  last  question  that  I  would  like  to 
direct  to  Mr.  Weil:  "What  significance  would  you  give  to  hypothermia 
observed  after  nutmeg  intake  ? " 

Mr.  Weil:  In  the  acute  intoxications  that  have  come  to  clinical  atten- 
tion— and  there  have  been  few — a  number  of  symptoms  suggestive  of  vasomo- 
tor instability  has  been  noted.  I  suspect  that  many  of  the  constituents  of  nut- 
meg might  have  effects  on  the  autonomic  nervous  system  and  on  general 
homeostasis  that  we  have  not  spelled  out  very  well:  possibly,  this  fall  in 
temperature  is  one  of  them. 

Chairman  Dr.  Truitt:  This  is  the  end  of  our  time  for  this  afternoon. 
I  thank  you  again  for  your  indulgence. 




Bo  Holmstedt,  Chairman 

Anthropological  Survey  of  the  Use 
of  South  American  Snuffs 

S,  Henry  Wassen 

Gothenburg  Ethnographic  Museum,  Gothenburg,  Sweden 


Early  Reports  and  Archeological  Evidence  from  the  West  Indies  and  the  Continent  23S 

Introductory  Remarks   233 

The  Cohoba  Sniifts  and  Its  Paraphernalia   234 

Further  Details  About  the  Cohoba  Powder   237 

Archeological  Evidence  for  the  Use  of  Snuff   243 

Ethnographical  Data  About  the  Use  of  Snuffs  in  South  America   262 

Comparative  Outlooks  and  Symbolism   274 

Bibliography    286 

Early  Reports  and  Archeological  Evidence  from  the 
West  Indies  and  the  Contents 

Introductory  Remarks 

The  first  contacts  between  Amerindians  and  Columbus  and  his  men  were 
established  in  the  West  Indies.  It  is  also  from  the  Antilles  and  the  surround- 
ing mainland  that  we  have  our  first  information  about  the  Indians'  use  of 
what  we  now  understand  to  have  been  a  psychotomimetic  snuff.  Although 
this  early  information  is  limited,  and  not  until  our  days  has  it  been  really 
considered  to  its  full  worth,  it  is  of  outstanding  importance.  Thus,  at  least 
some  evidence  has  been  saved  in  the  reports  of  the  chroniclers  from  the 
Circum-Caribbean  culture  area,  for,  as  stated  about  the  tribes  referred  to 
as  Circum-Caribbean,  "whether  insular  or  on  the  mainland,  they  were  readily 
accessible  from  the  coast,  and  were  quickly  overrun  by  the  Spanish  con- 
querors. The  great  majority  of  them  have  long  been  extinct  culturally  if  not 
racially."  ^ 

The  difficulty  in  defining  what  plant  material  an  early  description  refers 
to  must  be  considered  in  any  serious  study.  In  my  opinion  we  cannot,  as 
Jerome  E.  Brooks  has  done  in  his  work  on  tobacco  ( 1937)  ,^  take  it  for  granted 
that  observations  by  Amerigo  Vespucci  during  his  voyage  with  Alonso  de 
Ojeda  and  Juan  de  la  Cosa  (May,  1499-June,  1500),  bear  on  tobacco  chew- 
ing-— even  though  many  kinds  of  American  tobacco  later  have  been  observed. 
These  observations  related,  supposedly,  at  least,  to  natives  of  Margarita 
Island,  off  the  coast  of  Venezuela. 

According  to  Brooks  (1937 :  189),  Vespucci's  notice  in  his  letter  of  1504 
to  his  friend,  Piero  Soderini,  "was  the  first  published  which  relates  to  a 

1  steward,  Julian  H.  1948  :  1. 

2  Brooks,  Jerome  E.  1937  :  189. 


262-016  O — 67  ^17 

habit  we  know  to  have  been  tobacco  chewing."  I  quote  the  following  from 
Vespucci's  description  in  the  rendering  presented  by  Brooks : 

The  customs  and  manners  of  this  tribe  are  of  this  sort :  In  looks  and  behavior  they 
were  very  repulsive,  and  each  had  his  cheeks  bulging  with  a  certain  green  herb  which 
they  chewed  like  cattle,  so  that  they  could  scarcely  speak,  and  each  carried  hanging 
from  his  neck  two  dried  gourds,  one  of  which  was  full  of  the  very  herb  he  kept  in  his 
mouth ;  the  other  full  of  a  certain  white  flour  like  powdered  chalk.  Frequently  each  put 
a  certain  small  stick  (which  had  been  moistened  and  chewed  in  his  mouth)  into  the 
gourd  filled  with  flour.  Each  then  drew  it  forth  and  put  it  in  both  sides  of  his  cheeks, 
thus  mixing  the  flour  with  the  herb  which  their  mouths  contained.  This  they  did  very 
frequently  a  little  at  a  time. 

From  the  continuation  of  the  description,  we  deduct  that  the  European  ob- 
servers believed  that  the  natives  "carried  the  herb  and  flour  in  their  mouths 
in  order  to  relieve  their  thirst",  and,  also,  "that  the  women  did  not  them- 
selves indulge  in  the  habit"  (Brooks  1937:  191). 

If  we  now  should  give  a  description  of  how  e.g.  the  actual  Kogi  (or  Ka- 
gabba)  Indians  of  Sierra  Nevada  de  Santa  Marta  in  Colombia  use  their  'po- 
foro  (bottle-shaped  gourd  for  lime)  and  chew  their  coca  {hayo)^  a  process 
that  I  myself  have  observed  many  times,  we  could  word  for  word  repeat  the 
description  quoted  from  Vespucci.  As  a  matter  of  fact  his  words  can  as 
well  refer  to  the  habit  of  coca  chewing.  Such  an  eminent  Americanist  as  Er- 
land  Nordenskiold  of  Gothenburg  considered  Vespucci's  words  as  clearly 
referring  to  coca,^  and  Cooper  (1949:  549)  has  included  the  Cumana  area 
of  Venezuela  among  the  regions  from  which  "early  historical  sources  report 
coca  chewing  and/or  ritual  use  of  coca  leaves  as  prevalent."  To  this  must  be 
added  also  the  observation  by  Vespucci  that  "the  women  did  not  themselves 
indulge  in  the  habit."  No  rule  is  without  an  exception,  but  just  as  an  addition, 
I  wish  to  add  that  "more  commonly,  coca  chewing  is  a  masculine  rather  than 
a  feminine  habit"  (Cooper  1949:  552). 

The  Cohoba  Snujf  and  Its  Paraphernalia 

The  cohoba  snuff  used  by  the  Taino  of  the  West  Indies  has,  as  we  know, 
caused  much  discussion  which  I  previously  tried  to  summarize  in  two  papers.* 
"We  must  note  that  Columbus  himself  observed  the  use  of  a  powder,  though 
he  does  not  mention  it  by  name.  During  his  second  voyage,  1493-1496, 
Columbus  not  only  commissioned  the  Friar  Ramon  Pane  to  undertake  what 
we  now  call  anthropological  field  work  among  the  aboriginal  population 
of  Espanola  ("to  collect  all  their  ceremonies  and  antiquities,"  Bourne 
1906:  4),  but  he  himself  made  valuable  observations  presented  in  his  nar- 
rative of  the  second  voyage.^  As  has  been  pointed  out  by  Bourne,  we  possess 
this  narrative  "only  in  the  abridgment  of  Las  Casas  and  Ferdinand  Colum- 
bus." The  original  is  lost,''  but  both  Las  Casas  and  Ferdinand  Columbus  "in 

3  Nordenskiold,  Erland,  1919  :  14. 

*  Wass4n,  S.  Henry  and  Bo  Holmstedt.  1963  :  27-35  ;  Wass6n,  S.  Henry.  1964  :  97-120. 
Bourne,  Edward  Gaylord.  1906  :  3,  quite  correctly  has  credited  Christopher  Columbus  as  the 
person  who  "set  on  foot  the  first  systematic  study  of  American  primitive  custom,  religion  and 
folklore  ever  undertaken." 

»  Bourne.  1906  :  4,  "The  original  Spanish  text  of  these  documents  Is  no  longer  extant  and,  like 
the  Historie  which  contains  them,  they  are  known  in  full  only  in  the  Italian  translation  of  that 
work  published  In  Venice  in  1571  by  Alfonso  UUoa." 


condensing  the  original,  incorporated  passages  in  the  exact  words  of  the 
Admiral.  It  is  from  such  a  passage  in  Ferdinand's  abridgment  that  we  derive 
the  Admiral's  account  of  the  religion  in  primitive  Hayti"  (Bourne  1906 :  4) . 
Ferdinand  Columbus  says  that  he  recorded  "the  very  words  of  the  Admiral", 
and  we  can  now,  in  Bourne's  translation  (p.  4-6),  find  the  following  in- 
formation of  a  powder  which  evidently  must  be  the  same  as  that  mentioned 
by  Ramon  Pane  as  cohoba: 

I  was  able  to  discover  neither  idolatry  nor  any  other  sect  among  them,  although  all 
their  kings,  who  are  many,  not  only  in  Espanola  but  also  in  all  the  other  islands  and 
on  the  mainland,'  each  have  a  house  apart  from  the  village,  in  vi^hich  there  is  nothing 
except  some  wooden  images  carved  in  relief  which  are  called  cemis ;  *  nor  is  there 
anything  done  in  such  a  houae  for  any  other  object  or  service  except  for  these  cemis,  by 
means  of  a  kind  of  ceremony  and  prayer  which  they  go  to  make  in  it  as  we  go  to 
churches.  In  this  house  they  have  a  finely  wrought  table,  round  like  a  wooden  dish  in 
which  is  some  powder  which  is  placed  by  them  on  the  heads  of  these  cemis  in  perform- 
ing a  certain  ceremony ;  then  with  a  cane  that  has  two  branches  which  they  place  in 
their  nostrils,  they  snuft  up  this  dust.  The  words  that  they  say  none  of  our  people 
understand.  With  this  powder  they  lose  consciousness  and  become  like  drunken  men. 

In  addition  to  the  secluded  cemi  houses  for  snuffing  ceremonies,  Columbus 
mentions  two  paraphernalia,  namely  a  "finely  wrought  table"  for  the  powder, 
and  a  "cane  that  has  two  branches"  to  snuff  up  this  dust.  Both  are  of  im- 
mediate interest. 

In  a  paper  from  1964  dealing  with  the  Neo-Indian  epoch,  Irving  Rouse 
has  referred  to  the  statement  that  the  Arawak  in  the  West  Indies  placed 
the  powder  on  top  of  cemis,  adding  that  "many  of  the  statues  found  in 
caves  have  a  platform  on  top  for  this  purpose."  ^  In  this  connection  Rouse 
has  republished  the  66  cm.  high  wooden  British  Museum  cemi,  in  the  shape 
of  a  bird  standing  on  what  seems  to  be  a  turtle.  This  figure,  originally  pub- 
lished by  Joyce,^"  was  republished  also  by  Wassen  1965 :  fig.  4.  A  kneeling 
stone  figure  from  Puerto  Rico,  published  by  Palmatary,^^  may  also  be  taken 
into  account  as  such  a  West  Indian  cemi  with  platform  on  top.  I  have  in 
my  work  from  1966  (pp.  30-31,  figs.  5  and  53) ,  pointed  out  that  we  still  find 
a  South  American  ethnographic  parallel  to  this  in  the  ceremonially  used 
tabletops  for  snuff,  and  snuffing  paraphernalia  used  among  the  tribes  of  the 
rivers  Branco  and  Colorado  in  western  Brazil.  These  tabletops  are  carefully 
made  and  polished,  but  according  to  Franz  Caspar's  observations  among 
the  Tupari,  the  table  has  no  special  function  beyond  its  mechanical  use 
during  the  snuffing  seances.^^  We  can  observe  that  the  snuffing  ceremony 
among  the  Tupari  takes  place  inside  the  house.  When  used,  the  tabletop 
is  supported  by  three  wooden  legs  on  which  it  is  loosely  placed.  The  table- 
tops  are  irregularly  square-shaped  and  provided  with  a  handle.  They  are 

''  According  to  Bourne,  Cuba,  which  Columbus  believed  to  be  the  mainland. 

*  Bourne.  1906  :  5,  footnote.  "Ulloa  in  his  Italian  gives  this  word  in  various  forms  e.g.  cemij 
cimi,  cimini  and  cimiche.  The  correct  form  is  cemi,  with  the  accent  on  the  last  syllable.  Las  Casas 
says,  "Estas — Uamaban  cemi^  la  ultima  silaba  luenga  y  aguda." 

»  Rouse,  Irving.  1964  :  510-511. 

"Joyce,  Thomas  A.  1916,  pi.  21. 

"  Palmatary,  Helen  C.  1960,  pi.  120  d,  and  text  on  p.  92. 

"  The  photo  published  in  Wassen,  1965,  fig.  5,  was  taken  by  Dr.  Franz  Caspar  among  the  Tupari, 
during  his  second  expedition  to  this  tribe  in  1955. 


Fig.  1. — Y-shaped  snufEng  tube  from  Haiti.  After  Oviedo. 

cut  from  the  wood  of  flat  supporting  roots  of  a  tree.  Dr.  Franz  Caspar  con- 
siders them  as  particular  for  the  tribes  of  the  Branco  and  Colorado  Rivers. 

If  we  now  turn  to  the  "cane  that  has  two  branches",  Columbus  evidently 
was  observing  the  use  of  Y-shaped  snulRng  tubes,  of  which  there  were  finely 
worked  ones  used  by  the  chiefs  and  principal  men,  and  others  made  of 
reeds  for  those  who  could  not  afford  the  finer  ones.  The  "poor  hermit" 
Ramon  Pane  apparently  does  not  refer  to  a  forked  tube  when  he  says  that 
"the  Gogioha  is  a  certain  powder  which  they  take  sometimes  to  purge 
themselves,  and  for  other  effects  which  you  will  hear  of  later.  They  take 
it  with  a  cane  about  a  foot  long  and  put  one  end  in  the  nose  and  the  other 
in  the  powder,  and  in  this  manner  they  draw  it  into  themselves  through 
the  nose  and  this  purges  them  thoroughly"  (Bourne  1906:  17;  cf.  Loven 
1935:  393). 

In  Wassen  1964  (pp.  102-103),  there  is  a  discussion  of  the  West  Indian 
snuffing  instruments  according  to  the  sources,  and  I  here  again  republish 
the  tube  from  Haiti  (Fig.  1)  which  we  find  in  the  work  by  Oviedo,"  who 
also  has  stated  that  it  was  the  Y-shaped  snuffing  instrument,  and  not  the 
plant,  which  was  called  tabaco  by  the  Indians  (vol.  I:  131).  The  famous 
Bishop  and  Historian,  Bartolome  de  las  Casas,  also  described  the  West  In- 
dian snuffers,  "made  in  the  size  of  a  small  flute,  all  hollow  as  is  a  flute."  To 
make  his  readers  understand  the  Y-shaped  form  of  the  instrmnent,  he  uses 
the  picture  of  the  fingers  in  an  out-stretched  hand.^* 

Even  if  we  accept  the  occurrence  in  the  West  Indies  of  Y-shaped  snuffing 
tubes  as  an  obvious  parallel  to  tubes  of  the  same  type  found  in  South  America, 

The  original  is  found  in  volume  I,  pi.  1 :  7,  of  Oviedo's  Historia  general,  etc.  (1851).  The 
corresponding  text  on  p.  130. 

Las  Casas,  Bartolom6  de.  190!> :  445.  ".  .  .  ;  la  liechura  de  aquel  instrumento  era  del  tamafio 
de  una  pequeiia  flauta,  de  los  tercios  de  la  cual  en  adelante  se  abria  per  dos  cafiutos  huecos,  de  la 
inanera  que  abrimos  los  dos  dedos  del  medio,  sacado  el  pulgar,  cuando  extendemos  la  mano." 


we  must  also  note  the  observation  made  by  Loven  (1935:393),  that  "the 
Tainos  differ  from  the  whole  South  America  in  that  their  forked  snuff- 
tubes  were  not  made  from  bones,  and  certainly  not  from  those  of  birds,  as 
in  the  Orinoco  and  Cayary-Uaupes  regions.  Suitable  bones  for  tubes  were 
not  accessible  on  Espanola ;  other  material  had  to  be  sought  there." 

We  find  another  parallel  between  Haiti  and  the  northern  South  American 
mainland,  in  the  round  trays  for  snuff  now  found  among  the  Indians  of  the 
Orinoco  region  (see  Wassen  1965,  fig.  1,  p.  21),  and  the  fine  and  polished 
round  trays  described  by  Las  Casas  from  the  island.  He  says  that  the  snuffing 
instrument  was  made  of  the  same  kind  of  dark  wood  as  the  tray.^^ 

That  the  snuffing  tubes  of  wood  used  on  Haiti  in  some  cases  were  fine 
pieces  of  sculpture  is  clearly  understood  from  the  specimen  found  at  La 
Gonave  (Fig.  2),  first  published  in  1941  by  Mangones  and  Maximilien,  later 
also  by  Rouse  and  Wassen."  Dr.  Grete  Mostny  of  Santiago,  Chile,  has  in  a 
paper  from  1958  ^®  compared  the  elaborate  tube  from  Haiti  with  specimens 
of  finely  sculptured  straight  snuffing  tubes  from  the  Atacaman  region,  where 
the  Y-shaped  tubes  do  not  seem  to  exist.  As  the  description  of  the  tube  from 
Haiti  is  very  poor  in  the  work  by  the  two  Haitian  authors,  it  is  fortunate 
that  Mostny  has  been  able  to  quote  a  letter  from  Louis  Maximilien  (Febr. 
11,  1956).  In  this,  some  particulars  are  given  regarding  the  motif  on  the 
specimen  found  in  the  Picmi  cave  on  the  island  of  Gonave,  namely  a  kneeling 
man  crowned  by  a  bird's  head. 

Further  Details  about  the  Cohoha  Powder 

At  the  end  of  his  report  from  the  second  voyage,  Christopher  Columbus 
refers  to  an  account  he  had  ordered  from  "one  Friar  Roman  (Ramon)  who 
knew  their  language"  (Bourne  1906:  6).  As  far  as  we  know,  through  the 
Admiral's  son  and  other  chroniclers,  who  know  Pane's  text,  "to  this  day  our 
most  authentic  record  of  the  religion  and  folk-lore  of  the  long  since  extinct 
Tainos,  the  aboriginal  inhabitants  of  Hayti"  (Bourne  1906:  4),  we  meet 
in  it  not  only  the  name  of  a  certain  powder  they  inhaled,  but  also  most  in- 
teresting field  observations  on  the  psychotomimetic  effects  of  the  drug. 

Friar  Ramon  Pane  whose  text  is  best  read  in  the  careful  edition  of 
Bourne,^®  uses  two  words,  cohoha  and  cogiolja,  for  a  snuff  used  for  special 

'5  For  various  types  of  South  American  snuffing  tubes  see  Wassen,  1965. 

^8  In  tlie  text  of  Las  Casas,  1909  :  445,  a  snuff  tray  is  described  as  follows  :  ".  .  .  plato  redondo,  no 
llano,  sino  un  poco  algo  combado  6  hondo,  hecho  de  madera,  tan  hermoso,  liso  y  lindo,  que  no  fuera 
muy  mds  hermoso  de  oro  6  de  plata  ;  era  cuasi  negro  y  lucio  como  de  azabache." 

"Rouse.  1964,  fig.  18;  Wassen.  1964,  fig.  2,  and  1965,  fig.  51.  The  original  in  Mangones  and 
Maximilien,  1941,  pi.  50. 

18  Mostny,  G.  1958  :  387-389.  I  quote  from  the  text  of  the  letter  (p.  383)  :  "Les  deux  branches 
sup§rieures  du  Calumet  se  terminaient  par  des  bouts  olivaires — afin  de  rendre  aux  marines  un 
contact  doux  — ;  le  point  de  jonction  des  trois  branches  porte  le  motif  sculpts,  reprSsentant  un 
homme  agenouillS,  les  bras  liSs  derrifere  le  dos  et  la  poitrine  incline  dans  une  attitude  de  priere  ; 
le  tout  surmontS  d'une  tete  d'oiseau  d'un  haute  relief." 

1"  Bourne.  1906 :  8-9.  "To  facilitate  a  study  of  this  material  in  its  earliest  record  I  have  trans- 
lated Ramon's  treatise  from  the  Italian,  excerpted  and  collated  vyith  it  the  epitomes  of  Peter 
Martyr  and  Las  Casas,  and  have  prepared  brief  notes,  the  whole  to  form  so  far  as  may  be  a  critical 
working  text  of  this  source  for  the  folklorist  and  student  of  Comparative  Religion  in  America. 
The  proper  names  in  each  case  are  given  as  in  the  1571  edition  of  the  Historie." — "At  best  the 
spelling  of  these  names  offers  much  perplexity.  Ramon  wrote  down  in  Spanish  the  sounds  he  heard, 
Ferdinand,  unfamiliar  with  the  sounds,  copied  the  names  and  then  still  later  Ulloa,  equally  un- 
familiar with  the  originals,  copied  them  into  his  Italian.  In  such  a  process  there  was  inevitably 


purposes.  We  have  already  referred  to  the  text  where  it  is  said  that  "the 
Gogioba  is  a  certain  powder  which  they  take  sometimes  to  purge  themselves," 
etc.  (Bourne  1906:  17).  Later,  in  this  text,  we  meet  the  word  coJioha: 

When  one  is  ill  they  bring  the  Buhuitihu  (Bohuti)  to  him  as  a  physician.  The  physi- 
cian is  obliged  to  abstain  from  food  like  the  sick  man  himself,  to  play  the  part  of  sick 
man  which  is  done  in  this  way  which  you  now  will  hear.  He  must  needs  purge  himself 
like  the  sick  man,  and  to  purge  himself  he  takes  a  certain  ixnvder  called  cohoia  snuffing 
it  up  his  nose,  which  intoxicates  them  so  that  they  do  not  know  what  they  do,  and  in 
this  condition  they  speak  many  things  incoherently,  in  which  they  say  they  are  talking 
with  the  cemis,  and  that  by  them  they  are  informed  how  the  sickness  came  upon  him. 

Further  on  (Bourne  1906 : 24),  a  description  of  great  interest  to  the  psy- 
chotomimetic studies  follows,  which  I  quote: 

And  when  they  want  to  know  if  they  will  'be  victorious  over  their  enemies  they  go 
into  a  cabin  into  which  no  one  else  goes  except  the  principal  men ;  and  their  chief  is  the 
first  who  begins  to  make  cogioba,  and  to  make  a  noise ;  and  while  he  is  making  cogioba,  no 
one  of  them  who  is  in  the  company  says  anything  till  the  chief  has  finished ;  but  when 
he  has  finished  his  prayer,  he  stands  a  while  with  his  head  turned  (down)  and  his 
arms  on  his  knees;  then  he  lifts  his  head  up  and  looks  towards  the  sky  and  speaks. 
Then  they  all  answer  him  with  a  loud  voice,  and  when  they  have  all  spoken  giving 
thanks,  he  tells  the  vision  that  he  has  seen,  intoxicated  with  the  cogioba  which  he  has 
inhaled  through  his  nose,  which  goes  up  to  his  head.  And  he  says  that  he  has  talked 
with  the  cemi  and  that  they  are  to  have  a  victory ;  or  that  his  enemies  will  fly ;  or  that 
there  shall  be  a  great  loss  of  life,  or  wars  or  famine,  or  some  other  such  things  which 
occur  to  him  who  is  intoxicated  to  say.  Consider  what  a  state  their  brains  are  in, 
because  they  say  the  cabins  seem  to  them  to  be  turned  upside  down  and  that  men 
are  walking  with  their  feet  in  the  air. 

I  have  had  in  my  hands  photographic  copies  of  some  pages  of  ^^P.Martyris 
Angli-mediolanensis  opera  Legatio  habylonica  Occeani  decas  Poemata 
Efigranvmata^''  the  Gothic  edition  from  Seville  1511,  of  Peter  Martyr's  First 
Decode.  It  is  in  this  text  (see  Fig.  3,  a-b),  that  the  author,  who  never  him- 
self went  to  the  New  World,  after  having  seen  Pane's  manuscript  deals 
with  the  cohoha  powder.  For  a  translation  I  follow  MacNutt,^"  however 
with  some  corrections  and  notes.^^ 

Translation  of  the  Latin  text  of  1511  (fvi  r.  and  v)  : 

It  is  the  augurs,  called  bovites,  who  encourage  these  superstitions.  These  men,  who 
are  persistent  liars,  act  as  doctors  for  the  ignorant  people,  which  gives  them  a  great 
prestige,  for  it  is  believed  that  the  zemes  converse  with  them  and  reveal  the  future  to 

If  a  sick  man  recovers  the  bovites  persuade  him  that  he  owes  his  restoration  to  the 
intervention  of  the  zemes. 

some  confusion  of  u  and  n  and  u  and  v,  (Spanish  b).  In  the  Italian  text  v  is  never  used,  it  is 
always  u.  In  not  a  few  cases  the  Latin  of  Peter  Martyr  and  the  Spanish  of  Las  Casas  give  us  forms 
much  nearer  those  used  by  Ramon  than  the  Italian."  It  is  now  clear  that  both  Las  Casas  and 
Peter  Martyr  underestimated  the  Importance  of  Ramon  Pane's  worlt.  For  this  see  e.g.  Bourne,  p.  7. 

""MacNutt,  Francis  Augustus.  1912.  Vol.  I:  172-174.  As  pointed  out  by  Wass4n,  1964:  105, 
Ramon  Pane  used  buhuitihu  and  bohuti.  This  evidently  Island-Arawak  word  has  been  latinized  into 
boitius  (pi.  boviti)  by  Pedro  Martyr  and  is  written  buhuti  by  Ovledo,  and  bohique  and  behigue  by 
Las  Casas.  If  we  try  to  connect  it  with  other  known  words,  we  are  probably  safe  to  do  so  with  the 
also  Island-Arawak  buMo,  boMo,  a  common  word  in  the  Spanish  reports  for  house  but  sometimes  a 
designation  for  special  houses,  very  probably  also  those  for  medicine-men's  cures. 

^  The  first  printing  of  Decade  One  which  was  authorized  by  Martyr  is  that  of  1516,  in  which 
the  plural  boitii  for  medicine-men  occurs. 


Fig.  2. — Sculptured  snuffing  tube  of  wood  from  La  Gonive,  Haiti.  L.  24  cm.  Taino 
Culture.  After  photographs  published  by  Mangones  and  Maximilien. 

When  they  undertake  to  cure  a  chief,  the  bovites  begin  by  fasting  and  taking  a  purge. 
There  is  an  intoxicating  herb  which  they  pound  up  and  drink,"  after  which  they  are 
seized  with  fury  like  the  maenads,  and  declare  that  the  zemes  confide  secrets  to  them. 
They  visit  the  sick  man,  carrying  in  their  mouth  a  bone,  a  little  stone,  a  stick,  or  a 
piece  of  meat.  After  expelling  every  one  save  two  or  three  persons  designated  by  the 
sick  person^  the  bovite  begins  by  making  wild  gestures  and  passing  his  hands  over 

23  MacNutt  translates  drink.  The  Latin  text  has  sorheo,  absorb. 
23  The  Latin  says :  "from  a  semicircle,"  etc. 


mcdiolanenlie  oper$^ 

Fig.  3  a-b. — Title  and  text,  fvi(r.),  in  Peter  Martyr's  work  from  Seville,  1511,  in  which 
Ramon  Pane's  notices  of  cohoba  snufRng  first  appeared.  After  a  copy  in  "Arents  To- 
bacco Collection,"  The  New  York  Public  Library. 

the  face,  lips,  and  nose,  and  breathing  on  the  forehead,  temples,  and  neck,  and  drawing 
in  the  sick  man's  breach.  Thus  he  pretends  to  seek  the  fever  in  the  veins  of  the  sufferer. 
Afterwards  he  rubs  the  shoulders,  the  hips,  and  the  legs,  and  opens  the  hands ;  if 
the  hands  are  clenched  he  pulls  them  wide  open,  exposing  the  palm,  shaking  them 
vigorously,  after  which  he  affirms  that  he  has  driven  off  the  sickness  and  that  the 
Ijatient  is  out  of  danger.  Finally  he  removes  the  piece  of  meat  he  was  carrying  in  his 
mouth  like  a  juggler,  and  begins  to  cry,  "This  is  what  you  have  eaten  in  excess  of 
your  wants ;  now  you  will  get  well  because  I  have  relieved  you  of  that  which  you  ate." 

If  the  doctor  percieves  that  the  patient  gets  worse,  he  ascribes  this  to  the  zemes, 
who,  he  declares,  are  angry  because  they  have  not  had  a  house  constructed  for  them, 
or  have  not  been  treated  with  proper  respect,  or  have  not  received  their  share  of 
the  products  of  the  field.  Should  the  sick  man  die,  his  relatives  indulge  in  magical 
incantations  to  make  him  declare  whether  he  is  the  victim  of  fate  or  the  careless- 
ness of  the  doctor,  who  failed  to  fast  properly  or  gave  the  wrong  remedy.  If  the  man  died 
through  the  fault  of  the  doctor,  the  relatives  take  vengeance  on  the  latter.  Whenever 
the  women  succeed  in  obtaining  the  piece  of  meat  (erroneous  transl.y*  which  the 
bovites  hold  in  their  mouths,  they  wrap  it  with  great  respect  in  cloths  and  carefully 
preserve  it,  esteeming  it  to  be  a  talisman  of  great  efficacy  in  time  of  childbirth,  and 
honouring  it  as  though  it  were  a  zeme. 

The  islanders  pay  homage  to  numerous  zemes,  each  person  having  his  own.  Some  are 
of  wood,  because  it  is  amongst  the  trees  and  in  the  darkness  of  night  they  have  received 
the  message  of  the  gods."'  Others,  who  have  heard  the  voice  amongst  the  rocks,  make 
their  zemes  of  stone ;  while  others,  who  heard  the  revelation  while  they  were  cultivating 
their  ages — that  kind  of  cereal  I  have  already  mentioned, — make  theirs  of  root.'" 

Perhaps  they  think  that  these  last  watch  over  their  breadmaking.  It  was  thus  that  the 
ancients  believed  that  the  dryads,  hamadryads,  satyrs,  pans,  nereids,  watched  over 
the  fountains,  forests,  and  seas,  attributing  to  each  force  in  nature  a  presiding  divinity. 

^  This  passage  has  evidently  been  wrongly  translated  by  MacNutt.  The  women  could  hardly  keep 
the  pieces  of  meat.  From  the  Latin,  "de  lapillis  aut  ossibus  quos  ore  gestasse  bouijtus  aliqiiis 
putatur:  se  Jemine,"  etc.,  it  is  clear  that  the  women  collected  the  stones  and  the  pieces  of  bones  for 
the  said  purpose. 

^  In  the  original  visionibus,  "visions",  are  mentioned. 

^  "That  kind  of  cereal"  for  genus  panis  has  in  the  Argentine  edition  of  1944  been  translated  as 
"clase  de  alimento."  In  the  Latin  text  of  1516  it  says  genus  eduUi. 


fieri  putc9:quibccilU0redtare  cwCNcmt£liiintodnCK:fiws|pO0  iaie  metu  ta  out 
per  Diucrfa  fuilfe  vagat06:x>cfereiam  fame  periitnnquia  nolbibi  fillat  peocm  aa 
oebannl^incquonia  acmi8\>2gQtnciinaD|Nnro;t0Domum  puirarecepcrunrca3a# 
bi.i.panan  pocntes  pinfo]  auton  in  phmo  igreDiaitan  cofpuilFc  ita  acritcr  fotun 
confibo  acccpto  laptDcaairo  apotumeffcer  cuius  vlcere  natam  aiuntfbtuna5:qua 
nuituo  polKratresilUomnca  vlifunnatc^ab  ea  feruntfiUosftUarq^gcnuinc.  ju^ 
amoiu6aUuoaDucrtirop}incq>0iUu(faimiTic  2lntru5qtacaliuDiouanaboina  no 
minein  cuiufoamreguU  oiocdi:qui  i)^ac^^ec|pvocatur.3D  rebgiofuie  q^co^in 
tt^mquonDamautc^rTt>ammramc^  gredcolunt:acvaierannir:millevah)d  ox 
natum  picnuie^n  t>uiu0antn  foiibusouoe  |;>abentrculpt093ane8:quo?um  vna 
bintatteUenU]^aro|p>um  alteram  vocant/Corcama  fpeoim  coleraitpietate  :infe 
iTOgati:quiarolinDelunac0lumeo}bi  p:ebioiri  p?ooienint:grauiter  Ktifyteq^nf^ 
ponDent./ConajrrationibU0antra  vduti  noe  v>2bcm  t  baticanom  no(lre  rdigiois 
capnt:auciCompo(leUam  ^3t>aiiralem  Domini  fqMilcrani  frequoitant.  Subia# 
cent  a  alteri fupoilidonum gaicri:mo;nio6 pucant  noctu  vagari:ac  vefd  guanua# 
uenimroianefcunt.  Siquisauton  apuofciacot  moituumaliquanooruTpicatur 
(quomquiD  noui  fenferitin  lecto)  vteri  attraxationereoabiofolui  balbuliir.  /Cun# 
aanaq^aiuntmo:tuo0po(rc|;Miinananianb2arulaperep^  fi  vmbi 

licoigimrmo^niumefTeDianordctacmdiUicorer^^  iri^ 
neribud  p:edpue  vi)Tc0  puolide)  momioeooainm  viuiscrebuntnncontra  quos 
fi  viato;  intrepiDue1laoinDiroluiffaniarma:nveropeitimdcan^  aoo?im 
C)operterrenvcr€piu6eafb}nuDinemDUioebiUtaiiuracftupeae.  JnioTogahano 
fbleinfularee  vnoeribicodritu6inane8tan$contagionan  comparauerinna  ma# 
ionbus  Ipereoirariod  rcTponDencrirlpmirc^  aiiit  vltra  (^ninu  memonanuifta  c6# 
fqtaqucncminem  licctp:crcrr^lo}umHlio8eoocai:memoheilla  comenoanr  ne 
q^enimlicterae  vn(^^abuercoiebufcBf€(li8(alio  pulfancepopulo )  canentes  vehi 
ti  rolonniaracrap:eponunpin(lramenmm|?abentvmaimligneum:a}^ 
boanetanninv^cocunmrimpani^moK.  l^illoeimbuunrfupcrftidonibueeo]!^ 
0Ugura0quo8boni)ta8\?ocannrantai|cmmeDtdqnip(cbecutermim  infae  mi# 
IUaltrauncfrauoeo.iCttDerecoguntpUban  aoguitscquiafunt  apoo  earn  au^ 
ctoHt9ti0enmie)$5eme8ipro0aUoquannrfu(arac^pxDice^  aoueifaUi 
bo»n0valitu{Hneconualuaic:reoono  5am8tDaireainimpcrruaDenr.3kiunio^ 
pQiigationireobUgantboui)K:  q^aira50epnmar^  fumi^caUquo.  l^crbamcK 
O0romptoautfhi(tailocarai8.Cir|;)cnucido  drdnncomneapxtierpnumautouod 
quoeipraiutdegmrXiraiicp2imanum  booii'titdtcrautquacer :  fadem:labiana 
raq$Qtox|nen8feDi0gdlibu8:in  frontsmHn  tanpo:ann  collum  fuflar  ernxxf  ab^ 
rosboiaaatm :  poft  (^femoxbum  q:  labo»nfi8  venie  Q:|;>aunreokit.  ||^(;>u# 
tncro0Odnoeacftmo2a  a  ouraegrocumfncanfficdneraaa  peoiboe  manns  ceoa 
dfattj^ncmanibue  complcpeuio  |?o(ttum  psocmric  apertum:  oc  inanoo  cfcatit 


The  islanders  of  Hispaniola  even  believe  that  the  zemes  respond  to  their  wishes  when 
they  invoke  them.  When  the  cacique  wish  to  consult  the  zemes,  concerning  the  result 
of  a  war,  about  the  harvest,  or  their  health,  they  enter  the  houses  sacred  to  them  and 
there  absorb  the  intoxicating  herb  called  koho'h'ba,  which  is  the  same  as  that  used  by 
the  bovites  to  excite  their  frenzy.^  Almost  immediately,  they  believe  they  see  the  room 
turn  upside  down,  and  men  walking  with  their  heads  downwards. 

This  kohobba  powder  is  so  strong  that  those  who  take  it  lose  consciousness ;  when 
the  stupefying  actions  of  the  powder  begins  to  wane,  the  arms  and  hands  become  loose 
and  the  head  droops.^  After  remaining  for  some  time  in  this  attitude,  the  cacique 
raises  his  head,  as  though  he  were  awakening  from  sleep,  and,  lifting  his  eyes  to  the 
heavens,  begins  to  stammer  some  incoherent  words.  His  chief  attendants  gather  round 
him  (for  none  of  the  common  i)eople  are  admitted  to  these  mysteries),  raising  their 
voices  in  thanksgiving  that  he  has  so  quickly  left  the  zemes  and  returned  to  them. 
They  ask  him  what  he  has  seen,  and  the  cacique  declares  that  he  was  in  conversation 
with  the  zemes  during  the  whole  time,  and  as  though  he  were  still  in  a  prophetic  delirium, 
he  prophesies  victory  or  defeat,  if  a  war  is  to  be  undertaken,  or  whether  the  crops  will 
be  abundant,  or  the  coming  disaster,  or  the  enjoyment  of  health,  in  a  word,  whatever 
first  occurs  to  him. 

Bourne  (1906:  20)  accepted  cohoba  as  a  word  for  tobacco,  and  I  have 
previously  (see  Wassen,  1964:  102)  been  inclined  to  accept  the  explanation 
by  Friederici  that  the  Taino  word  cohoha  probably  stood  for  tobacco, 
while  the  word  cogioha  should  stand  for  Piptadenia.  Brooks  (1937:  189), 
however,  has  made  it  perfectly  clear  that  "none  of  the  early  commenta- 
tors on  the  custom  says  that  the  substance  inhaled  was  derived  from  the 
tobacco  plant,"  and  when  taking  into  account  all  the  forms  of  the  word 
oohoha,  such  as  cohohha^  cahoha^  cojoia-cogioha,  cojioha,  oohiba,  coiba,^°  I 
am  now  of  the  opinion  that  it  is  one  and  the  same  word,  and  that  cohoba  as 
Brooks  (1937 :  196)  expresses  it  "was  employed  by  the  medicine-men  chiefly 
to  induce  a  state  of  trance."  We  have  every  reason  to  believe  that  the  cohoba 
identification  by  E.  W.  Safford  and  other  writers  as  a  snuff  prepared  from 
the  seeds  of  Piptadenia  peregrina  is  valid.^^  According  to  Brooks  (1937 : 197) 
"this  plant,  indigenous  to  certain  parts  of  South  America  and  to  some  places 
in  the  Antilles  (including  Haiti),  still  bears  the  name  cohoba."  Here  it  is 
interesting  to  add  that  Pittier  (1926:  189)  has  found  the  word  cojoba  for 
the  tree  used  in  northern  Venezuela  (cf.  Rosenblat,  1965:  272,  344). 

In  this  connection  I  wish  once  again  to  underline  the  statement  of  Dr.  Siri 
von  Eeis  Altschul  in  her  botanical  thesis  of  1964  (p.  42)  that  the  Indians  of 
the  West  Indies  "may  have  found  it  easier  to  plant  the  trees  than  to  maintain 
communication  with  the  mainland  for  their  source  of  supply"  (of  cohoba). 
It  is  interesting  to  add  that  Oviedo  says  that  the  snuff  came  from  an  herb 
(hierva),  which  the  Indians  valued  much,  and  kept  it  cultivated.^^  Las 
Casas  mentions  that  the  Indians  "had  certain  powders  of  certain  herbs  well 
dried  and  finely  ground  and  of  the  color  of  cinnamon  or  powdered  henna, 

^  The  Latin  text  has  it,  and  this  is  important,  that  the  chohobha  was  absorbed  per  nares. 
25  In  the  Latin  edition  of  1516  there  is  a  small  change  in  the  text,  ".  .  .  insania  Irachiis  demisao 
capite  genua  complectitur  .  .  ." 
29  Friederici,  Georg.  1925. 
="  Friederici,  Georg.  1947  :  198. 

=1  Already  in  1898,  Max  Uhle  (p.  9)  draws  the  conclusion  that  "the  extreme  strength  of  the 
powder  as  described  by  Petrus  Martyr,  exceeding  that  of  tobacco,  decides  its  different  nature  and  Its 
Piptadenia  character." 

^  Oviedo,  Hiatoria,  etc.  1851  :  131. 


Fig.  4. — Archaeological  bird-shaped  pottery  snuffers  from  Costa  Rica.  A,  Guanacaste, 
B-D,  Lfnea  Vieja.  Coll.  Gothenburg  Ethnographic  Museum,  64-16.  Length  of  specimen 
C,  9  cm. 

etc.^"  "  With  Brooks  (p.  196)  and  others,  we  may  assume  that  the  "word 
cohoba  may  have  meant  snuff  as  well  as  the  act  of  snuffing  any  powder. 
Pulverized  tobacco  seeds  may  have  been  mixed  with  the  narcotic  snuff  inhaled 
by  the  medicine-men,  and  only  the  nicotian  ingredient  of  this  compound 
recognized  by  the  Spanish  observers."  The  Arawakan  Jirara  and  Caquetio 
in  N.W.  Venezuela,  tribes  which  according  to  Steward  (1948:  21)  had 
"certain  specific  resemblances  to  the  Arawakan  Taino  of  the  Antilles,"  had 
medicine-men  who  "practiced  divination  with  tobacco  ash  and  communed 
with  spirits  while  taking  tobacco  and  a  narcotic  herb."  The  mixing  of  tobacco 
and  yopo  has  been  reported  from  many  S.  American  tribes. 

Archaeological  Evidence  for  the  Use  of  Snuff 

If  we  consider  the  South  American  origin  of  the  West  Indian  tribes,  it  is 
only  natural  that  the  close  parallels  referring  to  the  snuffing  complex  in  the 
West  Indes  should  be  sought  in  South  America.  I  believe,  however,  that  also 
the  archaeologically  found,  often  bird-shaped  and  bifurcated  clay  snuffers 
from  Costa  Rica,  (Fig.  4),  should  be  taken  into  account.^*  These  small  clay 
snuffers  with  one  or  two  tubes  were,  according  to  Doris  Stone,  "probably 
used  for  cojoia  (Piptadenia  sp.)  or  tobacco."  ^® 

As  always,  the  South  American  influence  as  far  north  as  in  Costa  Eica 
is  worth  studying.  To  a  possible  explanation  of  the  bird  motif  in  the  clay 
snuffers  I  will  return  later.  Here  I,  want  to  refer  to  Fig.  5,  where  I,  after 
Dr.  Otto  Zerries,  can  show  an  old  bifurcated  and  nicely  carved  bird-shaped 
snuffing  tube  from  South  America.  This  highly  interesting  old  specimen  is 

33  Las  Casas.  1909  :  445. 

34  See  Wass^n  and  Holmstedt,  1963,  fig.  6,  and  p.  24  ;  also  Wass^n,  1965,  fig.  2,  and  pp.  25-26. 

3=  Stone,  Doris.  1958  :  16.  Her  figures  19  a,  6.  Stone  counts  "snuflSng  and  the  playing  of  flutes  by 
medicine  men"  as  "southern  traits"  in  Costa  Rica's  cultures  (p.  25). 
3«  See  Wass^n  and  Holmstedt.  1963  :  24. 


Fig.  5. — Bifurcated  snuffing  implement  of  wood.  Coll.  Mus.  f.  Vdlkerkunde,  Mannheim, 
"V.  Am.  No.  1894."  According  to  Zerries,  1965,  from  BrazOian  Guayana.  Courtesy 
Dr.  Otto  Zerries. 

now  in  the  Ethnographical  Museum  of  Mannheim,  Germany,  where  it  has 
been  observed  and  studied  by  Dr.  Zerries,  who  has  attributed  it  to  the  region 
of  Brazilian  Guyana.^^  The  old  snuffer  in  the  German  museum  undoubtedly 
points  to  a  South  American  background  also  for  the  clay  snuffers  in  Costa 

In  spite  of  many  omissions  and  too  hastily  drawn  conclusions,  the  study  of 
Max  Uhle  of  the  bifurcated  snuffing  tube  of  bone  that  he  found  in  1895  at 
Tiahuanaco  seems  to  be  one  of  the  first  of  a  comparative  interest  for  the  use 
of  snuffs  among  the  South  American  Indians.  A  drawing  after  Uhle's  illus- 
tration of  the  tube  he  found  is  shown  in  Fig.  6.  According  to  Uhle  (1898  :  1) , 
"the  tube  consists  of  the  wrist  or  leg  bone  {metacarjms  or  metatharsis)  of  a 

Zerries,  Otto.  1965:  185-193.  In  the  same  paper  Zerries  describes  two  more,  richly  decorated 
wooden  objects  from  the  Ethnographical  Museum  in  Mannheim  (numbers  Am.  1987  and  1988),  in 
the  form  of  jaguars  with  bowls,  which  evidently  have  been  receptacles  for  a  powder.  In  the  old 
museum  entry  it  says  "Gerat  zuni  Schnupfen,"  'snuffing  implement.'  Zerries  seeks  the  origin  for  all 
three  in  the  lower  R.  Trombetas  region. 


young  llama-like  animal,"  .  .  .  "and  the  bone  has  been  cut  off  at  each  end, 
and  while  at  the  upper  end  a  part  of  the  shaft  has  disappeared,  at  the  lower 
end,  bifurcating  naturally,  only  the  distal  articulations  have  been  cut  away 
and  each  part  bored,  so  as  to  communicate  with  the  main  tube.  The  caliber  of 
the  former  is      and  that  of  the  latter  13/32  of  an  inch." 

Uhle  reported  from  Tiahuanaco.  Following  him  it  has  only  slowly  and 
after  a  long  series  of  attempts  at  all  sorts  of  more  or  less  fanciful  explana- 
tions, become  evident  that  the  many  finds  in  the  region  of  the  former 
Atacameno  in  Argentina  and  Chile  of  wooden  trays  and  their  corresponding 
tubes,  must  be  classified  as  paraphernalia  connected  with  the  taking  of  some 
kind  of  a  snuff.  Several  earlier  references  have  been  mentioned  in  Wassen 
1965  (pp.  34-36  and  p.  78)  as  well  as  in  Wassen  and  Holmstedt  (1963:  24- 
25) ;  but  I  can  perhaps  best  refer  to  the  summary  of  the  extensive  literature 
presented  in  the  archaeological  thesis  by  A.  M.  Salas.^^  For  the  understand- 

^  Salas,  Alberto  Mario.  1945.  Especially  pp.  209-226,  "Area  de  dispersi6n  de  tubos  y  tahletas." 

Fig.  6. — Naturally  bifurcated  snuffing  tube  of  bone  from  Tiahuanaco.  Drawing  after 
Uhle's  photographs  in  his  publication  from  1898. 


ing  of  tlie  snuffing  complex  in  the  Atacama  region,  important  publications 
have  recently  been  published.  I  want  particularly  to  refer  to  the  classificatory 
study  by  Lautaro  Nunez,^®  and  the  same  author's  references  to  the  taking  of 
rape  during  successive  cultural  periods  in  northern  Chile.*"  A  small  but 
interesting  contribution  is  the  paper  by  G.  Mostny  from  1956,  in  which  she 
also  refers  to  the  tube  from  La  Gonave,  Haiti.  Her  paper  from  1952,  in  which 
she  offers  a  recapitulation  of  the  various  opinions  regarding  the  finds  of 
tabletas  and  tubos  in  Chile  and  Argentina,  is  also  of  high  interest  for  the 
description  (p.  8)  of  a  grave  find  of  a  paricd  tray  with  one  sculptured  and 
one  plain  tube.  The  tray  was  protected  by  a  surrounding  leather  wrapping, 
which  when  taken  away  showed  the  handle  in  the  form  of  a  nicely  carved 
condor.  The  circumstances  prove  that  the  Indians  had  taken  much  care  in 
protecting  this  specimen  when  the  owner  got  it  with  him  in  the  grave.  The 
sculptured  tube  in  the  same  find  shows,  according  to  Mostny's  description 
(p.  11) ,  a  masked  human  being. 

In  a  new  work  from  1965,  Father  Gustavo  Le  Paige  is  also  writing  about 
several  highly  interesting  finds  of  snuffing  paraphernalia  used  in  the  Atacama 
region.*^  The  list  could  easily  be  made  much  longer,  but  it  was  neither  here 
nor  in  my  study  from  1965  my  intention  to  present  a  complete  catalogue 
of  all  such  finds  from  a  given  area.  My  intention  has  been  to  underline  the 
importance  of  archaeologically  found  snuffing  paraphernalia  in  relation  to 
the  etlinographically  known  details.  Scientifically  it  must  be  of  an  over- 
whelming importance  to  learn  what  kind  of  powder  the  Indians  in  the 
Atacama  regions  used,  and  what  we  can  deduct  about  the  ceremonial  im- 
portance of  the  habit  from  the  finds.*^  In  Fig.  7-10  three  wooden  tablets 
and  a  tube  from  Chiuchiu  and  Argentina  are  shown  from  material  kept 
in  the  Museum  of  the  American  Indian,  New  York  City.  Fig.  11,  taken 
from  Fig.  57  in  Casanova's  paper  of  1946,  shows  interesting  Argentine 
specimens  with  features  often  discussed  in  this  work. 

3»  Nunez  Atencio,  Lautaro.  1963  :  148-168. 

*i  Xunez  A.,  Lautaro.  1965.  In  this  study  the  author  has  pointed  out  the  use  of  snuffing  tubes  of 
bone  among  groups  with  a  knowledge  of  both  agriculture  and  pottery  in  the  period  he  calls  Early 
(0—700  A.D.),  a  period  still  without  influence  from  the  Tiahuanaco  culture.  During  a  Middle  Period 
(700—1000  A.D.)  the  snuffing  paraphernalia  are  continuously  used,  and  a  strong  Influence  from 
Tiahuanaco  is  observed.  The  use  of  snufiE  trays  and  tubes  continues  during  the  Late  Period 
(1000-1450  A.D.),  when  several  local  cultures  developed  after  the  influence  from  Tiahuanaco. 

"  Le  Paige,  Gustavo.  1965.  His  work  from  1964  has  been  quoted  at  the  end  of  this  paper. 

"  I  am  most  thankful  to  Dr.  Lautaro  Nunez  A.,  Director  of  the  Department  of  Archaeology  of 
the  Universidad  de  Chile,  Zona  Norte,  Antofagasta,  for  his  kindness  in  sending  to  me  with  a  letter 
of  October  7,  1966,  samples  of  snufE  powder  archaeologically  found  and  associated  with  a  snuff 
tray  from  a  pre-Incaic  grave  at  the  coast  of  Chile,  near  Iquique  (Bajo  MoUe) .  The  material  has 
been  forwarded  to  Prof.  Bo  Holmstedt,  Stockholm,  for  analysis.  We  certainly  need  qualified  analyses 
of  archaeological  snuff.  Dr.  Alberto  Mario  Salas  (1945  :  222)  indignantly  criticizes  Max  Uhle,  who 
once  found  powder  associated  with  a  snuff  tablet  at  Calama,  and  concluded  he  had  found  a  narcotic 
powder  only  from  the  fact  that  he  and  his  assistant  started  sneezing  after  having  blown  the  powder 
into  the  nostrils.  Ricardo  E.  Latcham  (1938:  133-135),  started  a  discussion  on  which  type  of 
powder  the  AtacameSo  could  have  been  using.  He  suggested  Piptadenia  macrocarpa,  "common  in  the 
subtropical  valleys  of  Tucumfln  and  in  the  Chaco,  and  also  used  by  the  Calehaqufes,"  but  imme- 
diately added  that  more  probably  it  was  some  kind  of  tobacco.  The  Piptadenia  macrocarpa  should 
be  the  same  as  the  Peruvian  vilca.  Latcham  rejected  the  idea,  suggested  by  Dr.  A.  Oyarziin,  that 
Piptadenia  peregrina  had  been  used  by  the  Atacameno. 


Fig.  8. — Wooden  snuff  tray  with  human  and  feline  motifs.  Argentina.  3%"  x  7)2",  speci- 
men No.  15/1489.  Photograph  courtesy  of  Museum  of  American  Indian,  Heye  Foundation. 


Fig.  9. — SnufiF  tube  from  Argentina.  Sculptured  motif  seems  to  show  a  man  holding  a 
tube.  Photograph  courtesy  of  Museum  of  the  American  Indian,  Heye  Foundation. 
Specimen  No.  15/2407. 


262-016  0-67— 18 

Fig.  10. — Wooden  snuff  tray,  2>i' 

Handle  probably  personification  of  deity. 

Chiuchiu,  ChUe.  Photograph  courtesy  of  Museum  of  the  American  Indian,  Heye 
Foundation.  Specimen  No.  14/3741. 


Fig.  11. — SnufEng  paraphernalia,  tablets  and  tube  of  wood  decorated  with  zoomorphic 
and  anthropomorphic  figures.  After  fig.  57  in  Casanova,  1946.  Originals  in  Buenos 

In  1885,  the  Brazilian  archaeologist  Ladislau  Netto  when  commenting 
upon  the  zoomorphic  stone  figures  (often  bird-shaped)  found  in  the  sam- 
haguis  (shell  middens)  of  Santa  Catarina,  Brazil,  was  long  ahead  of  his 
time.  With  reference  to  the  cavities  observed  in  these  figures  (see  Fig.  12), 
he  took  them  to  have  served  as  a  deposit  for  a  vegetal  powder,  of  exciting 
quality  and  ascribed  with  supernatural  virtues.*^  This  aspect  is  interesting 
and  I  must  dedicate  some  time  to  it. 

The  so-cajled  antropolito  de  Mercedes^  a  stone  figure  from  Uruguay  in 
the  shape  of  a  human  being  with  a  rectangular  cavity  on  its  front  side  (in 
the  style  of  the  Mexican  Chacmool  figures)  has  been  labeled  by  Serrano 
(1939)  as  a  tableta.  This  stone  figure  can  be  seen  as  Fig.  4  in  the  posthumous 
work  by  J.  I.  Munoa  about  the  prehistoric  peoples  of  Uruguay.  The  author 

"  Netto,  Ladislau.  1885  :  516-517.  "Uma  advertencia  cabe-me  aqui  interpor  sobre  a  palavra  vaso 
que  tenho  dado  a  estes  ambuletos.  Alguns,  na  verdade,  p6dem  ter  este  nome,  nao  outros,  por^m,  que 
sao,  a  bem  dizer,  fetiches  zoomorphos  com  uma  peqflena  e  mal  distincta  cavidade  no  dorso,  no  ventre 
ou  no  flanco,  onde'  ao  que  presumo,  o  p6  vegetal  excitante,  a  que  attrlbuiam  virtudes  sobrenaturaes, 
era  deposltado  e  sorvido.  Quanto  aos  vasos  fetiches  ou  zoomorphos,  muito  6  de  crer  que  n'elles 
fossem  deposltadas  substancias  varias  com  attribuigao  de  eguaes  preconceitos,  ou  que  servissem 
para  pulverisar  as  folhas  de  alguma  planta  sagrada  ou  qualquer  outra  materia  destinada  a  cere- 
monias  religiosas." 


Fig.  12. — Bird-shaped  so-called  zoolithos  from  sambaqms  in  Santa  Catarina,  Brazil. 
Drawings  after  pi.  VI  in  Netto's  publication  of  1885. 


shows  how  the  nicely  sculptured  stone  specimens  (Utos)  in  animal  form, 
and  often  birds  {'"'■que  -figwan  comv/nmente  aues")  belong  to  a  stone- working 
culture  of  the  (later)  Tupi-Guara,ni  region  of  southern  Brazil  (Santa  Ga- 
tarina  and  Rio  Grande  do  Sul)  and  the  eastern  parts  of  Uruguay.** 

These  special  stone  figures  in  human  or  animal  form  (birds,  fishes,  etc.) 
with  cavities  have  been  classified  by  Munoa  (p.  16)  as  '■Hahletas  shamdnicas 
para  aspirar  parica'\  and  included  in  what  Serrano  used  to  call  the  Guayana 
Culture,  which  also  goes  under  the  name  of  the  Rio  Grande  Culture.  The 
Guayana,  according  to  Metraux  (1946:  445),  should  be  counted  with  the 
Caingang,  a  designation  for  several  "non-Guarani  Indians  of  the  States  of 
Sao  Paulo,  Parana,  Santa  Catarina,  and  Rio  Grande  do  Sul,  Avho  previously 
were  known  as  Guayana,  Coroado,  Bugre,  Shokleng,  Tupi,  Botocudo,  etc., 
but  who  are  all  linguistically  and  culturally  related  to  one  another  and 
form  the  southern  branch  of  the  Ge  family."  Nothing,  however,  seems  to 
indicate  that  the  Caingang  were  the  masters  of  the  stone  objects  mentioned 
here.  On  "Narcotics",  Metraux  (1946:  469)  says  only  that  "a  great  many 
stone  pipes  have  been  found  in  the  Caingang  area — ^a  puzzling  fact  since 
smoking  has  not  been  observed  among  the  Indians."  This,  however,  was 
contradicted  on  the  following  page,  where  he  says  that  "the  Caingang 
shaman  consults  spirits  at  night,  puffing  his  pipe  until  he  is  surrounded  by 
a  cloud  of  smoke." 

But,  as  these  litos  evidently  are  of  interest  as  possible  ceremonial  receptacles 
for  snuff,  to  which  culture  do  they  really  belong?  The  question  seems  open  to 
discussion.  Munoa  assigned  them  to  a  first  wave  of  Indians  in  Uruguay,  the 
Sambaguianos.  Serrano  placed  the  Utos  in  a  pre-Tiahuanaco  period  or 
Middle  Samtiqui  phase.*^  The  culture  is  said  to  have  come  from  the  north. 
Vidart  has  on  p.  61  of  his  edition  of  Munoa 's  work  dated  the  culture  which 
left  the  shamanistic  stone  tablets  {Has  tabletas  shamdnicas  en  piedra'"')  at 
3.000  B.C.,  but  no  reasons  for  this  very  early  dating  have  been  given.  For  my 
own  part  I  should  prefer  to  consider  the  litos  in  southern  Brazil  and  eastern 
Uruguay  in.  some  way  related  to  the  finds  from  the  Amazon  region  (the 
Gontas^  muiraquitas,  etc.  of  the  "Rio  Trombetas,"  see  Wassen,  1965 :  34) ,  per- 
haps so  that  a  specialization  in  a  craftsmanship  connected  with  a  ceremonial 
use  of  psychotomimetics  has  some  center  of  origin  until  now  unknown ;  how- 
ever, within  the  Amazon  region. 

In  Wassen,  1965 :  34,  the  Mercedes  figure  from  Uruguay  has  already  been 
mentioned  following  a  presentation  of  the  '"''idolo''''  or  '•'•conta)''  from  the  Rio 
Trombetas  region  with  its  "Alter  ego"  motrf,  and  its  carefully  hollowed 
out  cavity  on  its  back  (Fig.  13)  as  having  been  used  for  holding  some  kind 
of  a  psychotomimetic  snuff.  When  publishing  this  specimen  from  the  Gothen- 
burg Ethnographic  Museum,  I  saw  its  "beautiful  craftsmanship  reflected  in 
the  snuff  boards  with  animal  motifs  used  by  the  Cashuena,  and  earlier  also  by 

«MuSoa,  Juan  Ignacio.  1965  :  14—19  (edition  and  notes  by  Daniel  Vidart).  I  liave  not  said  that 
the  Tupi  used  snuff  of  the  kind  discussed  here.  Alfred  Metraux  (1948  a:  127)  has  not  mentioned 
the  use  of  paricA,  but  that  of  tobacco  smoking,  "one  of  the  favorite  pastimes  in  daily  life  as  well  as 
on  ceremonial  occasions."  He  also  points  out  that  "stone  pipes,  found  in  several  points  of  the 
Brazilian  coast,  perhaps  belong  to  another  culture  anterior  to  that  of  the  TupJ." 

«  Munoa,  ed.  by  Vidart.  1965.  P.  16  and  map  on  p.  12. 


Fig.  13.- — Stone  figure  with  cavity.  Sucuruju,  R.  Trombetas,  Brazil.  Gothenburg  Ethno- 
graphic Museum,  Coll.  No.  25.12.1.  Height  17.5  cm. 

other  Amazonian  tribes."  I  could  in  1965  also  show  a  direct  parallel  to  its 
artistic  motif,  a  man  being  dominated  by  a  jaguar  on  his  back,  when  referring 
to  a  detail  of  a  snufiing  tube  from  Puna  de  Jujuy  published  by  Ambrosetti  in 
1908  (see  Wassen,  1965,  Fig.  7,  and  this  work  Fig.  14) .  The  figure  shown  in 
Fig.  14  is  by  no  means  a  single  example.  In  Fig.  15  we  see  the  same  motif,  that 
is  a  jaguar  dominating  and  above  a  human  representation,  on  a  fragment  of  a 
wooden  snuffing  tube  found  together  with  a  tray  ^vith  handles  in  the  form  of 
two  human  figures  in  an  excavation  in  the  Antigal  de  Cienega  Grande  of  the 
Puna  de  Jujuy,  Argentina,  and  published  by  Salas.  (1945:  205-208,  Figs. 

As  mentioned  in  Wassen  1965 :  36,  Dr.  A.  A.  Gerbrands  in  1955  related  the 
carved  stone  objects  from  lower  R.  Trombetas  to  the  Maue  Indian  sculpture 
in  wood.  We  can  safely  connect  the  paHcd  trays  with  two  human  figures 
found  in  Argentina  and  Chile,  with  the  beautiful  Tucano  parted  tray  in  the 
Oslo  University's  Ethnographical  Museum  analyzed  in  1965.*^ 

The  Jaguar,  as  a  powerful  and  dangerous  animal,  has  certainly  always 
played  a  very  important  part  in  Indian  beliefs  as  reflected  in  their  ceremonial- 

'0  Wassen.  1965  :  68-80,  and  figs.  31-36  and  38-39. 


ism.  It  is  thus  not  without  reason  that  we  in  the  American  Museum  of  Nat- 
ural History,  New  York,  find  the  Jaguar  repeatedly  represented  in  a  series  of 
snuff  tablets  and  tubes  originating  from  the  "Gentilar  de  Caspana",  north 

In  one  special  case,  the  comparison  that  can  be  made  between  ethnogra- 
phically  known  snuff  tablets  in  the  Amazon  region  and  a  wooden  snuff  tray 
with  feline  head  archaeologically  found  in  Atacama,  Chile,  is  absolutely 
surprising.  For  this  I  refer  to  Fig.  22  in  this  work,  with  kind  permission 
published  from  a  photo  received  from  the  Museo  de  Arte  Precolomhino  in 


Fig.  15. — Section  of  snuff  tube  from  Cienega  Grande,  Puna  de  Jujuy,  Argentina.  After 


Montevideo.*^  I  am  in  this  case  nearly  prepared  to  accept  the  Atacaman  tray 
as  a  direct  trade  piece  from  the  Amazon  region.  The  late  Dr.  Stig  Ryden,  in 
his  work  on  the  archaeology  of  the  Rio  Loa  region,  was  specifically  interested 
in  the  trade  relations  between  the  Atacameno  and  the  lowlands  in  the  east.** 

If  we  now  look  for  other  archaeological  finds  of  snuffing  paraphernalia  in 
South  America,  the  snuff  tablet  and  its  tube  reported  by  Dr.  J.  B.  Bird  from 
near  the  Huaca  Prieta,  Chicama  Valley,  Peru,  is  the  most  interesting,  as  it 
appears  in  a  very  old  culture  sequence.*®  According  to  information  received 
from  Dr.  Bird  following  my  visit  to  New  York  in  September,  1966,  it  is  the 
question  of  a  "snuff  tablet  of  whalebone,  Chicama  Valley,  Peru,  near  the 
Huaca  Prieta.  Test  4,  House  3,  associated  with  skeleton  99.1/880,  the  snuff 
tube  41.2/4722  a,  b.,  and  a  broken  jet  mirror.  The  burial  was  made  during 
the  period  when  Guanape  pottery  was  in  use.  (The  oldest  pottery  known  in 
this  area).  Estimated  Age,  c.  1200  B.C.;  oldest  known  tablet  (as  of  1966)." 
(Letter  of  Nov.  2,  1966).  See  Fig.  23  for  this  specimen. 

Dr.  Bird  has  also  had  the  kindness  to  inform  me  about  a  find  of  a  snuff 
tray  of  wood  collected  by  Mr.  G.  S.  Vescelius  in  1959,  "from  a  Late  Inter- 

"  See  plate  38  in  "Arte  PrecolomMno,  Coleccidn  Matto,"  Museo  de  Arte  Precolombino,  Montevideo, 

"  Ryd^n,  Stlg.  1944.  See  his  summary,  pp.  20&-212,  also  the  discussion  of  the  origin  of  the 
material  of  a  leather  cuirass  made  of  the  skins  of  alligator  and  monkey  (pp.  115-116).  According 
to  Wendell  C.  Bennett  (1946  :  603)  the  "AtacameQo  were  great  traders." 

"  Bird,  Junius  B.  1948  :  21-28.  Also  Wass^n  and  Holmstedt,  1963  :  25,  and  Wass^n,  1965  :  79-80. 


Fig.  16. — Snuff  tray  with  feline  motif  and  corresponding  tube.  Atacama.  Specimen 
courtesy  of  the  Museo  de  Arte  Precolombino,  Montevideo. 

Fig.  17. — Both  sides  of  whalebone  snuff  tablet  and  its  corresponding  tube.  Specimens 
discovered  by  Dr.  Junius  B.  Bird  near  the  Huaca  Prieta,  Chicama  Valley,  Peru.  Oldest 
known  tablet  (as  of  1966).  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the  American  Museum  of  Natural 
History,  New  York.  Specimen  41.2/4721  (tray),  41.2./4722  a,  b,  bird  and  fox  bone 
snuff  tube,  found  with  the  tray. 


mediate  burial  at  Santa  Maria  Miramar,  a  site  near  Mejia,  on  the  Peruvian 
coast  about  20  kilometers  south  of  Mollendo.  There  are  tvro  phases  (one  Inca, 
the  other  immediately  pre-Inca)  represented  at  this  site.  The  burial  dates 
from  the  earlier,  pre-Inca  phase.  Associated  with  the  snuff  tray  in  the  grave 
were  a  miniature  raft  with  its  paddle,  a  bagfull  of  model  harpoon  f oreshafts, 
and  a  spindle  with  rectangular  whorl."'  Various  specimens  in  the  collections 
of  the  American  Museum  of  Natural  History,  N.Y.,  are  shown  in  Figs.  16-21. 

Fig.  18. — Both  sides  of  four  snuff  tablets  of  wood  in  the  American  Museum  of  Natural 
History,  New  York.  Photographs  courtesy  of  A.M.N.H.  A,  41.0/8754,  Cemetery  at 
Chiuchiu,  Chuquicamata,  ChOe;  B,  41.0/8746,  same  data;  C,  41.0/8911,  Grave  site 
near  San  Pedro,  Chuquicamata  region.  North  Chile;  D,  41.0/8912,  same  data  as  C. 


Fig.  19. — Nine  snuff  trays  of  wood  from  Chile.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the  Americarx 
Museum  of  Natural  History,  New  York.  Eight  specimens  from  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu, 
one  from  Puntas  Tetas  near  Antofagasta  (bottom  row,  third  from  left). 

Fig.  20. — Four  snuff  tablets  of  wood  from  Chile.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the  American 
Museum  of  Natural  History,  New  York.  From  left:  41.0/8750,  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu: 
B/9568,  "Taken  from  child's  grave,"  Juan  Lopez  Bay,  near  Antofagasta;  41.0/8964, 
Cemetery  about  3  km.  from  Chiuchiu,  and  41.0/8751,  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu,  Chu- 


Fig.  21. — Snuff  tubes  of  bird  bone  and  bone  and  wood.  Chile.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the 
American  Museum  of  Natural  History,  New  York.  These  specimens  come  from  Chiu- 
chiu,  Cobija  and  Lasana  ruin,  near  Chuquicamata. 

From  the  Huaca  Prieta  find,  it  is  evident  that  snuffing  paraphernalia  were 
in  early  use  in  the  Peruvian  high  culture  area.  I  have  in  my  book  from  1965 
(p.  80)  referred  to  W.  von  Hagen's  statement  that  "there  is  no  doubt  that 
the  coastal  yuncas,  as  their  contemporaries,  the  Andean  dwellers,  had  a  wide 
knowledge  of  drug-yielding  plants."  Specific  trade  routes  were  mentioned : 
"Huancabamba  had  extensive  trade  alliances  with  the  coast  people.  It  was 
also  a  trade-axis  for  the  jungle;  a  route  less  than  sixty  miles  ran  from  the 
mountains  about  Huancabamba  down  to  Jaen,  near  to  the  Rio  Maranon,  one 
of  the  tributaries  of  the  Amazon  rivers  system."  ^°  It  was,  according  to  von 
Hagen,  the  milieu  of  the  widely  spread  and  trading  Shuara  (or  Jlvaro). 
Among  various  articles  traded  by  these  Indians,  von  Hagen  (p.  150)  espe- 
cially mentions  several  narcotics,  among  them  ^^niopo  snuff  (which  was  in- 
haled into  the  nose  through  the  shank  bone  of  the  Oil-bird.")  In  this  con- 
nection it  is  tempting  to  refer  to  a  painting  on  a  Mochica  vessel  from  Period 
V  (c.  600-700  A.D.)  published  by  Alan  R.  Sawyer."  The  vessel,  which 
belongs  to  the  Nathan  Cummings  Collection  in  the  Metropolitan  Museum  of 
Art,  New  York,  shows  according  to  Sawyer  an  "ornately  caparisoned  war- 

60  Hagen,  Victor  W.  von.  1965  :  149. 
M  Sawyer,  Alan  R.  1966  :  46. 


rior-bird"  which  is  "collecting  the  narcotic  fruit  of  the  uUvhclio  tree,  which 
grows  in  the  highlands." 

Following  my  publication  of  the  claysnuffers  from  Costa  Rica,  Doctors 
Clifford  Evans  and  Betty  J.  Meggers  of  the  U.S.  National  Museum  in  a  letter 
of  March  24,  1966,  raised  the  question  if  the  so-called  "pottery  spoons  from 
Marajoara  Phase"  published  by  them  as  plate  81  in  Bulletin  167  of  the 
Bureau  of  American  Ethnology  might  be  a  snuff  device.  "These  were  ruled 
out  as  smoking  pipes  because  of  two  factors;  one,  was  position  of  the  hole 
in  all  but  one,  and  in  that  one,  there  was  no  indication  whatsoever  that  it 
had  been  used  for  a  pipe.  Since  they  don't  occur  in  the  culture  we  use  the 
term  that  has  been  used  by  others,  namely  pottery  spoons.  If  they  are  actually 
used  in  snuff  taking  it  would  move  the  distribution  down  to  the  mouth  of  the 
Amazon  and  at  a  earlier  time  zone  than  the  rest  of  your  region."  (Letter  of 
March  24,  1966).  The  possibility  that  these  objects  served  as  some  kind  of 
snuffing  paraphernalia  should  perhaps  be  taken  into  account.  In  the  general 
form  these  clay  specimens  very  much  resemble  the  mortars  of  fruit  shell 
used  for  preparing  the  paricd  snuff  in  parts  of  the  Amazon  region.^^ 

■^^  Comp.  for  instance  the  object,  pi.  Sib,  in  the  publication  by  Meggers  and  Evans  (1957)  with 
the  mortar,  fig.  25  (p.  60)  in  Wass^n  1965. 

A         B         C         D  E:  F  6 

Fig.  22. — SnufT  tubes  from  Chile.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the  Museum  of  Natural  History, 
New  York.  A,  B/4452,  bone  and  wood,  Arica;  B,  41.0/8742,  wood,  Cemetery  at  Chiu- 
chiu;  C,  41.0./8994,  wood,  Chiuchiu;  D,  41.0./3415,  wood,  Chiuchiu;  E,  41.0.8739, 
wood.  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu;  F,  41.0.8740,  wood,  metal  at  nd,  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu; 
G,  41.0.8741,  wood.  Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu. 


Fig.  23. — SnufF  tube  and  thorn  bundles  from  snuff  tubes.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the 
American  ^Museum  of  Natural  History,  New  York.  The  tube,  41.0/1713  J,  from  Chiu- 
chiu,  Chile.  The  bundle  of  seven  thorns  beside  the  tube  was|found  in  the  tube.  Wrap- 
ping is  sinew.  The  other  thorns  belong  to  41.0/8662,  all  unassociated  with  original  tubes. 
Cemetery  at  Chiuchiu,  Chuquicamata,  Chile. 

The  map  in  Fig.  24  shows  the  distribution  of  archaeological  finds  which 
definitely,  or  in  some  cases  possibly,  should  be  related  to  the  taking  of  psy- 
chotomimetic snuffs. 

Ethnographical  Data  About  the  Use  of  Snuffs 
in  South  America 

The  first  thing  prepared  for  this  chapter  has  been  the  distribution  map 
in  fig.  25  with  its  legend.  In  this  map  tribal  names  and  data  about  the  snuff- 
ing of  paricd  or  yopo  as  well  as  epena  snuffs  as  presented  in  Zerries  (1964, 
map  10,  text  pp.  85-93)  have  been  incorporated  with  the  ethnographic  in- 
formation presented  in  the  map  in  "Wassen,  1965,  p.  13.  The  data  given  by 
Cooper  (1949,  map  10,  pp.  536-537)  have  also  been  used,  as  have  some  of  the 
information  from  Colombia  presented  in  the  paper  by  Xestor  Uscategui  M. 
(1959).  As  far  as  I  understand  the  final  result  must  give  a  fairly  complete 
picture  of  the  distribution  of  psychotomimetic  snuffing  among  the  South 
American  Indians  according  to  published  reports. 


Fig.  24. — Distribution  of  Archaeological  Finds.  See  Legend. 

Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  24- 

1.  Haiti.  Finds  connected  with  the  use  of  cohoba. 

2.  Puerto  Rico.  Stone  cemi  with  platform  on  top. 

3.  Finds  of  clay  snuffers  in  Costa  Rica. 

4.  Mochica  Culture,  N.  Peru.  Painted  motif  on  a  pottery  vessel  supposed  to  show  the 
collecting  of  the  narcotic  fruit  of  the  ullucho  tree  (?) . 

5.  Whalebone  snuff  tablet  and  bone  tube.  Huaca  Prieta,  Chicama  Valley.  Fig.  17. 

6.  Uhle's  snuffing  tube  of  bone  from  Tiahuanaco.  Fig.  6. 

7.  Pre-Inca  phase  wooden  snuff  tray  from  Santa  Maria  Miramar,  south  of  Mollendo. 

8.  Finds  of  snuffing  paraphernalia  at  Chiuchiu,  Chile. 

9.  Finds  from  the  Changos,  Coast  of  Antofagasta,  Chile. 

10.  Finds  from  the  Atacama  region. 

11.  Finds  from  the  Puna  de  Jujuy,  Argentina. 

12.  Province  of  C6rdoba,  Argentina. 

13.  Stone  figure  (17.5  cm.  high)  with  cavity  on  its  back.  Sucuruju,  R.  Trombetas,  Brazil. 
Gothenburg  Ethnographic  Museum,  Coll.  25.12.1. 

14.  So-called  pottery  spoons  from  the  Marajoara  Phase.  (?) 

15.  Zoomorphic  stone  figures  {litos)  from  S.  Catarina  and  R.  Grande  do  Sul,  Brazil.  Fig. 



Finds  of  litos  in  Eastern  Uruguay. 
The  antropolito  de  Mercedes,  Uruguay. 



Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25. 

1.  Highland  Chibcha  and  Tunebo,  Chibcha  neighbors  on  the  east.  Piptadenia  snufiF,  see 
Cooper,  1949:536.  According  to  Oviedo,  Historia  etc.,  vol.  IV:  607  (Madrid  1855), 
yop  was  a  "yerba  de  adivinacion,  usada  por  los  mojas  6  sacer dotes  del  sol  en  las  voiles  de 
Tunja  y  Bogota.  {Lengua  de  Nueva  Granada) ."  A  reduced  number  of  Tunebo  are  still 
found  in  "the  humid  jungle  regions  in  the  southwestern  part  of  the  Comisaria  de 
Arauaca,"  Colombia  (Uscategui,  1959:298-299).  Same  author,  p.  299:  "The  custom 
of  snuffing  yopo  was  acquired  probably  from  their  Arawak  neighbors  in  Venezuela 
and  Colombia."  A  knowledge  of  nutmeg  (at  least  for  trade  purposes)  existed  among 
the  Tunebo  of  the  early  18th  century.  According  to  Gumilla  (1744:307)  "el  Padre 
Pompeo  Carcacio,  que  fu6  Missionero  de  los  Tunevos  muchos  anos,  nos  assegur6,  que 
en  su  tiempo  traian  aquellos  Indios  Nuez  moscada,  tan  parecida  en  todo  d  la  que  traen 
del  Oriente,  que  no  se  podian  distinguir  unas  nueces  de  otras;  pero  yo  no  la  he  visto, 
ni  s6  que  oy  la  saquen." 
2-3.  Caquetio  and  Jirajara,  extinct  tribes.  The  medicine-men  took  tobacco  and  a  nar- 
cotic herb  when  they  practised  divination  and  communed  with  the  spirits.  Cf .  Wass6n, 
1965:105.  Probably  Piptadenia  snuffers. 

4.  Inyeri,  Arawak  Indians  of  Trinidad,  yopo  snuffers  (Zerries,  1964:88,  and  Cooper, 
1949:536,  "early  Contact  Indians  of  Trinidad."  Castellanos,  1950:93:  (in  "canto 
cuarto") , "  t/no  toma  tabaco  y  otro  yopa  para  poder  saber  lo  venidero." 

5.  Palenque  and  Piritil.  Two  Carib  tribes  (Zerries,  1964:88).  According  to  Herndndez 
de  Alba,  1948:411,  "the  Palenque,  Piritil  and  Sdliva  shamans  also  used  "yopa"  for 

6.  Waica,  Samatari,  Surdra,  Sanemd  and  Pakiddi,  subgroups  of  the  Yanoama,  southern 
Venezuela.  These  Indians  use  snuff  piepared  from  Virola  sp.,  the  snuff  now  inter- 
nationally known  as  epena  (the  Waica  name).  See  information  and  references  in 
Wass6n  and  Holmstedt,  1963:8,  and  Wassen,  1965:98-99.  Also,  Holmstedt,  1965. 
According  to  Zerries,  1964:85,  the  Waica  should  also  use  Piptadenia  peregrina. 

7.  Karime  (or  Shudri),  Indians  culturally  related  to  the  Waica.  According  to  G.  Salath6, 
quoted  in  Wassen,  1965:99,  and  in  Wassen  and  Holmstedt,  1963:14,  these  Indians 
prepare  a  snuff  made  of  leaves  from  a  small  plant  called  kokoime.  A  30  cm.  long 
straight  tube  is  used.  Another  person  blows  into  the  nostrils. 

8.  Araraibo,  Indians  at  the  upper  Cauaburi  River,  an  affluent  of  R.  Negro,  border 
region  between  Venezuela  and  Brazil.  Visited  by  Georg  J.  Seitz,  see  his  book  from 
1960.  Information  on  the  powder  prepared  of  material  from  Virola  sp.  has  been 
summarized  in  Zerries,  1964:85-86.  Evidently  closely  related  to  the  Samatari  (Seitz, 
1960:306,  has  published  a  short  "Araraibo-Xamatari  Word  List"),  or  a  Waica  group. 

9.  Paravilhana,  Carib  Indians.  Martins,  1867:631,  has  reported  the  use  of  paricd  powder 
from  Mimosa  acacioides.  Cf.  Zerries,  1964:87. 

10.  Yecuand-Makiritare,  Carib  Indians  of  southern  Venezuela.  See  the  translation  of 
Th.  Koch-Grtinberg's  description  of  the  use  of  the  hakudufha,  a  "bark  of  tree"-powder 
from  these  Indians  in  Schultes,  1954:245,  also  quoted  in  Wassen,  1965:97.  According 
to  Schultes,  an  identification  of  the  unusual  narcotic  Virola-snuS  with  the  powder 
mentioned  by  Koch-Grunberg  seems  almost  certain.  Dr.  Helmuth  Fuchs  (letter  of 
March  9,  1962,  quoted  in  Wass6n,  1965:97),  has  described  a'ku:duwha  as  a  snuff 
powder  with  ingredients  which  botanically  can  be  shown  to  have  come  from  Pipta- 
denia peregrina,  or  another  Piptadenia.  There  are  also  other  ingredients  from  a  tree, 
probably  Virola  sp.  See  also  discussion  in  Wassen  and  Holmstedt,  1963:10-12.  Cf. 
Zerries,  1964:87-88.  Cf.  No.  24. 

11.  Yabarana.  Carib  Indians,  related  to  the  Makiritare.  Johannes  Wilbert,  1963:133, 
mentions  the  use  of  tobacco,  yopo,  and  cdpi  among  the  Yabarana  (Wassen,  1965:20). 
Zerries,  1964:88,  quoting  a  paper  by  Wilbert  from  1959,  mentions  that  the  Yabarana 
should  obtain  their  yopo  from  a  liana  (?),  and  a  tablet  and  Y-formed  snuff  t\ibe 
are  used. 

12.  Piaroa,  Indians  of  the  Salivan  Family,  Orinoco- Ventuari  territory,  see  Wass6n, 
1965:103.  According  to  Wilbert  they  use  yopo,  a  strong  "tabaco-rape,"  prepared 
from  the  seeds  of  Piptadenia  sp.  The  powder  is  passed  around  in  a  round  tray  with 


262-012  0-67— 19 

Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25 — Continued 

handle  in  the  form  of  a  fin  (of  a  fish)  and  Y-shaped  tubes  of  bird  bone  are  used.  Ac- 
cording to  J.  J.  Wurdack,  bark  of  Lecythidaceae  is  burned  and  the  ash  added  to  the 
yopo  of  Piptadenia  seeds.  Quotation  in  Wassen,  1965:103. 

13.  Puinave.  Indians  at  the  lower  Infrida  River,  southeast  Colombia  and  adjacent  terri- 
tory of  Venezuela.  Several  quotations  in  Wassen,  1965:99-100.  Dr.  R.  E.  Schultes, 
1954:248,  has  repeatedly  observed  the  preparation  of  "a  violently  toxic  snuff"  among 
the  Puinave.  This  snuff  is  prepared  from  an  exudation  of  Virola  calophylla  and  Virola 

14.  Kuripako,  Arawak  Indians  of  the  Guainfa  River.  Schultes  has  described  a  narcotic 
snuff  prepared  of  Virola  sp.  Quotations  in  Wassen,  1965: 100. 

15.  Achagua,  once  widely  distributed  Arawak-speaking  Indians  in  Venezuela  and  eastern 
Colombia.  Herndndez  de  Alba,  1948:409,  says  that  "the  Achagua  used  a  snuff  made 
of  the  narcotic  powder  of  certain  leaves  called  "niopa"  or  "yopa."  Two  Indians  took 
this  snuff  simultaneously;  with  two  crossed  bird  bones,  each  blew  it  into  the  other's 
nose."  Cf.  No.  19  in  this  list.  Also  Zerries,  1964  :89.  Sven  Lov4n,  1935:387,  says  that 
yopa  "is  an  Achaguan  name."  For  a  full  quotation  of  the  prognostication  combined 
with  the  taking  of  yopo  powder  from  the  relation  written  by  the  Jesuit  missionary 
Juan  Rivero  in  1736,  I  refer  to  Wassen,  1965  : 19.  "A  nasal  secretion  from  the  right 
nostril  signified  success,  from  the  left  meant  failure,  and  from  both  was  an  indetermi- 
nate sign." 

16.  Guahibo,  Chiricoa,  Saliva.  Several  references  to  these  Colombian- Venezuelan  Llanos 
tribes  in  Wass4n,  1965:104.  The  Guahibo  and  Chiricoa  men  "invariably  carried  a 
shell  or  a  jaguar  bone  containing  parica.  These  tribes  were  said  to  carry  the  habit 
of  parica  snuffing  to  extremes  not  found  among  the  neighboring  tribes"  (Kirchhoflf, 
1948:455).  Cf.  Zerries,  1964:89. 

17.  Piapoco,  snuffers  of  Piptadenia.  See  Cooper,  1949:536. 

18.  Guaupe  and  Sde,  Arawak  Indians.  Zerries,  1964:89,  has  quoted  Kirchhofif's  article 
on  these  Indians  in  vol.  4  of  the  Handbook  of  South  American  Indians  (Washington: 
1948),  p.  385-391,  about  the  taking  of  "coca  (yupa),  and  tobacco."  The  probably 
Arawak  Indians  once  lived  "in  the  southernmost  section  of  the  Venezuelan-Colombian 
llanos,"  the  Guayup6  "also  in  large  parts  also  inhabited  the  dense  rain  forests  of  the 
Andean  sloops"  (Kirchhoff,  p.  385.) 

19.  "Ouitoto"  Indians  of  the  upper  Yapurd  River.  See  Zerries,  1964:91,  and  the  discus- 
sion of  the  crossed  tubes  for  snuffing  among  the  "Ouitotos"  of  Dr.  Crevaux  in  Wassen, 
1965:87-90.  It  is  a  possibility  that  herndndez  de  Alba  when  formulating  the  state- 
ment about  the  Achagua  (see  No.  15  in  this  list)  has  been  influenced  by  the  drawing 
and  text  in  the  work  of  Crevaux.  No  source  is  given  for  the  statement  about  the 
Achagua.  Until  such  a  reliable  source  has  been  presented,  I  prefer  to  consider  the 
often  published  drawing  in  the  publications  of  Dr.  Crevaux  of  two  Indians  using 
crossed  snuffing  tubes,  as  dubious. 

20.  Taiwano.  Indians  of  the  R.  Kananari,  Comisaria  del  Uaup^s,  Colombia  (Cerro 
Isibukurf).  According  to  Schultes,  1954:242,  they  use  a  narcotic  snuff  of  Virola. 

21.  Otomac.  Tribe  in  the  Venezuelan  Llanos,  between  Orinoco,  the  Apure,  and  the  Meta 
Rivers.  According  to  Paul  Kirchhofif's  paper  on  these  Indians  in  vol.  4  of  the  Handbook 
of  South  American  Indians,  pp.  439-444  (Washington,  1948),  "Otomac  shamans, 
under  the  influence  of  nope,  predicted  the  future."  Humbolt  was  a  witness  of  Otomac 
snuffing  the  powder  of  Acacia  niopo  seeds  with  lime  as  an  ingredient.  As  he  is  one  of 
the  very  few  who  really  gives  a  description  of  the  preparing  of  the  snuff,  I  quote 
from  the  "Personal  Narrative"  (Humbolt  and  Bonpland,  1818-1929,  vol.  V:  66 1-663): 
"The  Otomacs  are  a  restless  turbulent  people,  with  unbridled  passions.  They  are  not 
only  fond  to  excess  of  the  fermented  liquors  from  cassava  and  maize,  and  of  the  palm 
wine,  but  they  throw  themselves  into  a  peculiar  state  of  intoxication,  we  might  almost 
say  of  madness,  by  the  use  of  the  pwoder  of  niopo.  They  gather  the  long  pods  of 
mimosacea,  which  we  have  made  known  by  the  name  of  acacia  niopo,  cut  them  into 
pieces,  moisten  them,  and  cause  them  to  ferment.  When  the  softened  seeds  begin  to 
grow  black,  they  are  kneaded  like  a  paste,  mixed  with  some  flour  of  cassava  and  lime 


Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25 — Continued 

procured  from  the  shell  of  a  helix,  and  the  whole  mass  is  exposed  to  a  very  brisk  fire, 
on  a  grate  of  hard  wood.  The  hardened  paste  takes  the  form  of  small  cakes.  When 
it  is  to  be  used,  it  is  reduced  to  a  fine  powder,  and  placed  on  a  disk  five  or  six  inches 
wide.  The  Otomac  holds  this  disk,  which  has  a  handle,  in  his  right  hand,  while  he 
inhales  the  niopo  by  the  nose,  through  a  forked  bone  of  a  bird,  the  two  extremities 
of  which  are  applied  to  the  nostrils.  This  bone,  without  which  the  Otomac  believes 
that  he  could  not  take  this  kind  of  snuff,  is  seven  inches  long:  it  appeared  to  me  to 
be  the  leg  bone  of  a  large  sort  of  the  plover  (ichassier).  1  sent  the  niopo,  and  all  this 
singular  apparatus,  to  Mr.  de  Foucroy  at  Paris."  According  to  Rosenblat,  (1965:272) 
nothing  of  all  this  is  now  remembered  among  the  Llanero  population  said  to  be  de- 
scendants of  the  Otomac.  Also,  their  language  has  gone. 

22.  Cashuena.  Indians  of  the  Carib  Family  on  the  Casuro  (Cashorro)  River,  a  tributary  of 
the  middle  Trombetas  River,  Brazil.  From  this  tribe  Protdtasio  Frikel  has  described 
a  mori  snuff,  which  can  be  made  "simply  of  tobacco"  or  of  other  ingredients  among 
which  paricd  is  mentioned.  A  full  quotation  is  found  in  Wass6n,  1965 : 103,  and  also  in 
Wassgn  and  Holmstedt,  1963:21-23.  The  snuff  mentioned  by  Mr.  Gottfried  Poly- 
krates  seems  to  originate  from  Piptadenia  seeds.  Details  in  Wass6n,  1965:103. 

23.  Tuyuca  and  Bar  a,  Tucanoan  tribes  on  the  upper  Tiqui6  River.  As  quoted  in  Wassen, 
1965: 100,  the  use  of  paricd  or  niopo  has  been  mentioned  by  Whiffen  from  the  Tuyuca, 
and  Zerries,  1964:90,  refers  to  Koch-Griinberg's  statement  about  the  use  of  a  snuff 
from  Mimosa  acacioides  Benth.  among  both  tribes. 

24.  Cuheo,  one  of  the  Eastern  Tucanoan  tribes  at  a  section  of  the  Uaup6s  River.  Schultes, 
1954:242,  describes  the  Cubeo  as  users  of  Virola  snuff.  Of.  Wass6n,  1965,  about  their 
use  of  Banisteriopsis  caapi.  According  to  Goldman,  1948:796,  "the  shamanistic 
novice  spends  a  month  learning  the  art  from  at  least  two  professionals.  He  obtains 
tree  resin,  dupa  (Tucano),  and  inhales  it  in  a  powdered  form  for  4  days."  Bodiger, 
1965:151,  refers  this  to  the  Cubeo  novices,  and  mentions  also  Koch-Griinberg's  ex- 
planation of  the  word  dupa  as  meaning  small  white  stones  used  for  sorcery.  In  the 
meaning  tree  resin  which  is  inhaled  as  a  powder,  the  word  is  of  direct  interest  through 
the  term  hakudufha,  offered  us  by  Koch-Grunberg  from  a  linguistically  mixed  region 
with  contact  zones  between  several  language  families. 

25.  Tucano.  In  this  word  an  important  group  of  Indians  of  the  Uaup6s  and  Papuri  Rivers 
are  included.  Schultes  has  in  1954  reported  the  use  of  Virola  snuff,  and  Uscategui 
has  in  1959  mentioned  a  mixture  of  Virola  and  Theobroma  subincanum  powders. 
Mr.  Georg  J.  Seitz  has  photographed  a  Tucano  medicine  man  grinding  the  dry  crust 
of  evaporated  Virola  calophylloidea  exudation  to  snuff  powder  with  a  stone.  The 
photos  were  taken  by  him  at  Tapuruquara,  upper  R.  Negro,  Brazil,  in  1965  (see 
Wassen,  1965:100-101,  also  p.  73).  In  Wassen,  1965:68-76,  it  has  been  demonstrated 
that  the  Tucano  used  very  fine  sculptured  snuff  trays  in  earlier  days.  Uscategui, 
1959:294,  remarks  that  the  Tucano  commonly  use  the  Tupl-Guarani  loan-word 
pa-ree-kd  (paricd)  for  the  snuff  prepared  from  "the  blood-red  resin  of  certain  species 
of  the  myristicaceous  tree,  Virola,  especially  V.  calaphylla  and  V.  calophylloidea." 

26.  Barasana,  Makuna,  Yahuna,  Yabahana,  Menimehe.  Zerries,  1964:90-91,  has  men- 
tioned that  Koch-Grunberg  found  the  same  snuffing  pa^apherna'ia  among  the  Tu- 
canoan tribes  (or  groups)  Makuna,  Yabahana  and  Yahuna  at  the  lower  Apaporis 
River,  as  he  had  found  among  the  Tuyuca  and  Bard  (No.23)  at  the  upper  Tiquie 
River.  Schultes  found  Barasana  and  Makuna  Indians  living  together  at  the  R. 
Piraparand,  both  tribes  snuffers  of  Virola  (see  Wassen,  1965:101).  This  drug  seems 
also  to  be  used  among  the  Yakuna  and  Yabahana.  Whiffen  has  listed  the  Arawak 
Menimehe  at  the  Yapurd  River  as  users  of  a  narcotic  snuff.  See  Zerries,  1964:91. 

27.  Pase,  Juri  and  Uainuma,  once  important  Arawak  tribes  south  of  the  Yapurd  River, 
noted  as  paricd  snuffers  and  also  listed  among  such  tribes  by  Zerries,  1964:  91,  as 
also  by  Wassen,  1965:66,  according  to  Metraux.  The  Pas6  have  been  mentioned  in 
Wassen,  1965:68,  as  one  of  the  Brazilian  tribes  called  "black-faces,"  as  they  used 
a  special  tribal  identification,  the  so-called  malhas.  They  have  been  reported  as 
excellent  wood-carvers. 


Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25 — Continued 

28.  Omagua.  In  Wass^n,  1965 : 83,  there  is  a  detailed  description  of  this  Tupf  tribe  through 
Father  Samuel  Fritz,  who  in  1701  had  to  calm  an  uprising  in  the  Settlement  of  San 
Pablo.  Pots  with  powdered  curupd  were  found,  "with  which  to  deprive  themselves 
of  their  senses,  so  as  to  carry  out  any  evil  deed  without  compunction."  This  ma- 
terial was  all  consumed  with  fire  upon  orders  given  by  Father  Fritz  after  his  Mass. 
Metraux  has  stated  that  both  the  Omagua  and  Cocama,  also  a  Tupf  tribe  further 
west,  "inhaled  powdered  curupa  leaves  (Mimosa  acacioides) ,  to  which  they  ascribed 
great  therapeutic  and  magical  powers."  According  to  Metraux,  the  curupd  "was 
blown  into  the  nose  through  Y-shaped  tubes  or,  with  the  help  of  small  rubber  sy- 
ringes, administered  as  a  clyster  which  provoked  agreeable  visions."  Quotations  in 
Wass6n,  1965:83.  Zerries,  1964:92,  seems  to  doubt  the  use  among  the  Cocama. 
According  to  La  Condamim's  Relation,  etc.  from  1778  (quoted  in  Wass4n,  1965:84) 
the  word  curupd  for  Piptadenia  should  originate  from  the  language  of  the  Omagua. 
Monteiro  de  Noronha,  writing  in  1768  about  the  Omagua,  which  he  calls  Umaud  or 
Cambebas,  "Flat  Heads,"  criticizes  La  Condamine  for  his  statement  that  the  curupd 
intoxication  should  last  24  hours,  and  corrects  it  to  "apenas  dura  tres  horas"  (Mon- 
teiro de  Noronha,  1862:58).  The  same  author  adds  that  the  Cambebas  used  the 
juice  from  the  bark  of  the  manacd,  which  has  been  identified  with  Brunfelsia  hopeana 
Benth.  of  the  Solanaceae  family. 

29.  Tucuna.  As  follows  from  the  analysis  in  Wassen,  1965:82-83,  these  Indians  who 
now  only  snuff  tobacco,  are  known  to  have  been  using  paricd  snuff  in  earlier  days 
for  their  ceremonial  snuff  called  ka'jvi.  The  very  important  snuff  tray  found  in  the 
Oslo  University's  Ethnographical  Museum  and  published  in  Wassen,  1965,  fig.  41, 
has  by  an  ethnographical  analysis  been  shown  to  come  from  the  Tucuna,  and  to 
represent  the  prego  monkey  demon.  See  Wassen,  1965:80-86. 

30.  Piro.  One  of  the  Arawakan-speaking  tribes  of  the  headwaters  of  the  Ucayali  and 
Madeira  Rivers,  by  Julian  H.  Steward  and  Alfred  Metraux  counted  as  a  primitive 
Montana  subgroup.  The  use  of  the  seeds  of  Acacia  niopo  has  been  reported  among 
the  Piro  by  William  Curtis  Farabee  in  1922.  For  the  hunter  and  his  dog,  see  Wass6n 
1965:94.  Cf.  No.  31  in  this  list. 

31.  Catawishi,  Indians  of  the  river  Puriis.  Spruce  has  in  1874  reported  from  these  Indians 
that  they  used  to  absorb  paricd  through  a  bent  tube,  and  also  that  they  administered 
an  injection  of  paricd  to  dogs,  thus  a  confirmation  of  that  stated  from  the  Piro.  Full 
quotation  in  Wassen,  1965:96.  See  also  Cooper,  1949:547. 

32.  Mura.  For  the  once  much  feared  Mura  Indians  of  the  Madeira  River  the  use  of 
paricd  must  have  been  of  outstanding  importance.  This  is  clearly  demonstrated  in 
the  descriptions  quoted  in  Wassen,  1965:37.  The  roasted  seeds  of  the  paricd  tree 
were  taken  either  as  a  snuff  or  an  enema.  The  snuff  was  blown  into  the  nostrils  by 
means  of  bone  tubes.  The  effects  of  the  drug  consumption  in  this  tribe  have  been 
drastically  described.  Schultes  has  warned  that  we  cannot  be  absolutely  sure  that 
the  snuff  used  by  the  Mura  and  Mau6  was  prepared  from  Piptadenia,  as  a  botanical 
consideration  must  be  kept  in  mind.  Cf.  Wass6n,  1965:23. 

33.  Maue.  These  Central  Tupi  Indians  were  formerly  famous  for  their  paricd,  which  they 
do  not  use  any  more  (see  Nunes  Pereira,  1954:71).  Mimosa  acacioides  is  given  as  the 
source.  They  have  also  been  carving  very  nice  specimens  of  snuff  trays,  now  kept  in 
several  museums.  See  the  description  in  Wassen,  1965:39-63. 

34.  Mataco.  Indians  of  the  Gran  Chaco,  among  whom  the  shamans  have  been  reported  to 
use  snuff  from  the  seeds  of  cebil,  that  is  Piptadenia  macrocarpa.  Information  collected 
by  Metraux  has  been  quoted  in  Wassen,  1965:29. 

35.  Lule.  Extinct  Indians  in  western  Chaco,  Argentina.  Metraux  has  mentioned  the  Lule 
together  with  the  Mataco.  An  old  information  from  the  Lule  comes  from  Pedro 
Lozano  (1733),  who  states  that  cevil  was  blown  into  the  nostrils  by  a  small  tube  in 
order  to  provoke  rain  when  necessary  for  their  cultivations.  Full  quotation  in  Wassen, 

36.  Comechingones.  Cooper,  1949:536,  has  listed  the  extinct  16th-century  Indians 
around  C6rdoba,  Argentina,  among  those  taking  Piptadenia  powder.  See  Zerries, 


Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25 — Continued 

1964:93,  for  further  references  to  the  use  of  cehil  and/or  wilca  in  the  southern  region, 
where  also  the  Zanavirones  are  reported  to  have  used  it.  Max  Uhle,  1898:9,  has  quoted 
vol.  II  of  the  "Relaciones  Geogrdficas  de  Indias,  Peru",  p.  152,  from  a  report  dealing 
with  "la  Ciudad  de  C6rdoba,"  where  the  Indians  spoke  comechingona  and  zanavirona: 
"Toman  por  las  narices  el  sebil,  ques  una  fruia  como  vilca;  hdcenla  polvos  y  hibenla  por 
las  narices."  Uhle  comments  (p.  9):  "The  curious  expression,  they  drink  the  powder 
with  the  nostrils,  means  without  doubt  that  the  Indians  took  the  powder  by  means  of 
an  instrument  like  a  tube.  Concerning  the  word  sebil,  Napp  (The  Argentine  Republic, 
1876,  p.  114)  tells  us  that  sebil  is  in  Argentine  the  name  of  the  Acacias.  Now,  the  fact 
that  Humboldt  originally  pointed  out  the  niopo  tree  as  a  species  of  Acacia  by  mistake 
and  von  Martius  called  it  Mimosa  acacioides  proves  that  Piptadenias  and  Acacias 
have  sometimes  been  confounded.  We  know,  further,  that  Piptadenia  trees  of  the 
variety  niopo  are  also  common  in  eastern  Bolivia  and  the  Argentine  (for  instance 
Piptadenia  macrocarpa,  in  the  province  of  Tucuman) .  As  the  bark  of  the  curupau  tree, 
which  from  its  name  and  general  description  may  be  a  niopo  tree,  serves,  according 
to  Cardus,  to  tan  hides  in  eastern  Bolivia,  so  in  like  manner  the  bark  of  sebil  is  used 
to  tan  hides,  as  I  noted,  in  the  environs  of  Tucuman.  All  this  leads  to  the  conclusion 
that  the  tree,  from  whose  seeds  the  powder  was  made,  is  related  to  niopo,  and  a  sci- 
entific determination  may  perhaps  show  it  identical  with  niopo.  The  custom  of  snuff- 
ing sebil  in  the  environs  of  Cdrdoba  was,  therefore,  derived  from  another  part  of  the 
continent,  where  snuffing  niopo  was  practiced."  The  conclusion  by  Uhle  must  be  con- 
sidered as  very  important  also  when  we  take  the  distribution  of  paraphernalia  into 

37.  Tupari,  Guaratdgaje,  Amniapd,  and  other  tribes  in  western  Brazil,  in  the  R.  Branco 
region  and  on  the  Mequens  River,  affluents  of  the  Guapore  River.  Cooper,  1949 : 536, 
refers  to  "the  upper  Guapor6  tribes."  Zerries,  1964:91,  has,  according  to  a  report  of 
Dr.  Etta  Becker-Donner,  Vienna,  added  the  Aikand  or  Hauri,  as  their  medicine-men 
use  a  snuff  of  Piptadenia  peregrina  mixed  with  bark  ashes.  Dr.  Becker-Donner  has 
also  reported  the  use  of  such  powder  among  the  Salamay  in  the  same  region,  as 
quoted  by  Zerries,  1964:91.  The  most  valuable  information  from  the  whole  Guapore 
region  as  regards  snuffing  has  been  given  by  Dr.  Franz  Caspar  from  the  Tupari.  I 
refer  to  his  book  from  1952,  and  his  manuscript  from  1953,  both  quoted  in  Wass6n, 
1965:102,  and  as  regards  the  snuffing  tubes,  especially  pp.  24-28. 

38.  Quichua.  See  Discussion  in  Zerries,  1964:92,  for  the  use  of  wilca  (or  vilca)  snufif 
among  the  Andean  Quichua,  according  to  data  given  by  Safford  in  1916  and  by  O.  F. 
Cook  in  1915.  Cooper  mentions  the  Highland  Quechua  of  Peru  among  the  consumers 
of  Piptadenia,  and  this  is  also  fully  reflected  in  his  Map  10  in  his  work  for  the  Hand- 
book (1949),  where  a  solid  black  covers  most  of  the  central  part  of  the  western 

39.  Aymara.  Zerries,  1964:95,  has  listed  the  Aymara,  Tiahuanaco,  as  yopo  snuffers  and 
mentions  the  word  coro  as  probably  =curupa  =  yopo.  His  text  seems  to  indicate 
that  the  yopo  powder  should  have  been  known  among  the  Aymara  through  the  old 
tribes  in  northwest  Argentina.  La  Barre,  however,  does  not  mention  yopo  among 
the  narcotics  in  his  work  from  1948,  but  he  has  the  information  from  Bertonio, 
" Sincantatha:  Tomar  tabaco  por  las  narizes.  Thusa  thusa  es  el  tabaco"  (La  Barre, 

Max  Uhle  (1898)  was  the  first  to  take  up  a  serious  discussion  about  what  kind  of 
snufi  really  was  used  in  the  Highlands.  Garcilasso  de  la  Vega's  information  is  clear 
and  refers  to  tobacco:  "The  Indians  made  great  use  of  the  herb  of  plants  which 
they  call  Sayri,  and  the  Spaniards  called  tobacco.  They  applied  the  powder  to  their 
noses  to  clear  the  head"  (Markham,  1869:188).  According  to  Uhle,  we  learn  from 
this  source  "that  the  practice  of  snuffing  must  have  been  nearly  general  in  the  High- 
lands of  middle  and  southern  Peru,"  .  .  .  Uhle  here  refers  only  to  the  snuffing  of 

It  is  in  one  of  the  sources  known  to  him,  namely  a  report  from  La  Paz  found  in 
the  "Relaciones  Geogrdficas  de  Indias,  Peru,"  vol.  II,  p.  76  (Madrid,  1885)  that  we 


Legend  to  Map  in  Figure  25 — Continued 

find  the  word  coro.  "Hay  tambien  entre  los  indios  tahaco,  que  ellos  le  llaman  sayre,  de 
que  los  negros  usan  mucho,  y  los  indios  de  la  ralz  que  llaman  coro,  y  se  purgan  con  ello 
y  lo  toman  en  polvos."  Uhle  (1898  :  17)  comments:  "There  is  nothing  published  which 
points  to  the  practice  of  snuffing  the  powder  of  niopo  in  Peru,  if  not  in  the  report  of 
the  province  of  La  Paz.  In  this  province  two  powders  were  used  as  snuff — tobacco 
and  coro.  This  coro,  without  any  hesitancy,  should  be  declared  to  be  curupa,  if  it 
had  not  been  reported  as  being  a  root.  But  the  use  of  niopo  being  confirmed  from  the 
region  of  C6rdoba,  it  seems  more  reasonable  to  suppose  that  the  writer  of  the  report 
was  mistaken  than  that  there  existed  a  third  powder,  never  elsewhere  reported,  with 
a  name  similar  to  that  of  niopo,  which  was  taken  as  snuff  in  the  environs  of  La  Paz." 

40.  Desano  and  Tariano.  Two  Arawak  tribes  along  the  lower  part  of  the  Colombian 
course  of  the  Uaupes  River.  According  to  Uscategui,  1959 : 295,  they  know  "and 
employ  paricd  or  Virola-simS  as  do  their  Tukanoan  neighbors."  Paricd  (pa-ree-kd) 
is  a  loan-word  from  the  Tucano  but  of  Tupi-Guaranl  origin  (cf.  No.  25).  The  tribes 
are  also  called  Desana  and  Tariana. 

41.  Kuiva,  Amorua,  Sikuani,  and 

42.  Guayaberos.  "Various  tribes,"  according  to  Uscategui,  1959:299,  "located  between 
the  Meta  and  Inirida  Rivers,  most  of  which  belong  to  the  Arawak  and  Guahibo 
linguistic  families."  He  has  for  these  tribes  or  tribal  groups  received  personal  com- 
munications from  Medcn  and  Schultes.  Other  tribes  mentioned  by  Uscategui  in  this 
context  are  the  Puinave,  Piapoco,  Saliva,  and  Kuripako,  which  already  have  been 
listed  separately: 

"All  of  these  use  or  were  formerly  acquainted  with  yopo,  especially  for  purposes 
of  magic.  Yopo,  prepared  from  the  toasted  and  pulverized  seeds  of  Piptadenia  pere- 
grina,  is  normally  taken  only  by  men,  for  there  exists  a  certain  taboo  which,  however, 
seems  no  longer  so  strict  as  it  cnce  was.  In  the  most  acculturated  of  these  people, 
both  sexes  take  it.  Snuffing  of  this  violent  intoxicant,  which  looks  rather  like  ground 
coffee,  is  carried  out  with  very  different  kinds  of  instruments,  the  most  generally 
used  of  which  is  a  double  Y-shaped  tube  of  bird  bones  (the  arms  of  the  Y  being  sol- 
dered into  place  with  pitch)  ending  in  two  hollowed  palm-nuts.  These  nuts  are  placed 
at  the  opening  of  the  nostrils,  and  the  powder  is  inhaled  from  the  palm  of  the  hand. 
Another  kind  is  the  long  V-shaped  snuffing  tube,  one  leg  of  which  is  inserted  into 
a  nostril,  the  other  into  the  mouth,  thus  making  self-administration  possible.  There 
are  additional  types  of  snuffing-tubes  as  well,  both  of  bone  and  of  small  bamboo-like 
grasses.  One  other  primitive  type  is  made  of  a  palm-leaf:  the  apex  of  the  leaf  is  cut 
off  truncated,  and  this  funnel-shaped  end  is  placed  over  the  snuff,  while  the  snufifer 
draws  in  strongly  through  the  petiole  which  is  bound  into  a  tube.  Generally,  some 
kind  of  wooden  mortar  and  pestle  is  used  to  grind  the  Piptadenia-seeds  which  have 
previously  been  roasted  in  the  fire.  The  powder  is  kept  in  a  case  made  of  the  leg-bone 
of  the  jaguar,  partly  closed  with  wax  and  adorned  with  feathers.  The  addition  of  an 
alkaline  admixture  may  or  may  not  be  the  practice."  This  long  quotation  with  its 
excellent  description  to  which  practically  nothing  could  be  added  has  been  taken 
from  Uscategui,  1959:299-300. 

43.  Caripuna.  A  Panoan-speaking  tribe  referred  to  by  the  Austrian  naturalist  Johann 
Natterer  as  having  snuffing  implements.  Natterer  himself  encountered  a  Caripuna 
subgroup,  probably  the  Sinabo,  at  the  Madeira  River  (quotation  from  Metraux  in 
Wassen,  1965:47).  According  to  Metraux  "the  Caripuna  provoke  a  state  of  trance 
by  taking  paricd  (Piptadenia  sp.)  in  the  form  of  clysters  they  administer  to  each 
other  with  rubber  syringes  provided  with  a  bone  tube." 

The  distribution  of  tobacco  snuffing  (and.  other  ways  of  taking  tobacco 
as  chewing,  drinking,  and  licking)  in  many  cases  covers  the  same  areas  (see 
map  10  in  Cooper,  1949,  and  maps  11-12  in  Zerries,  1964) .  These  data,  how- 
ever, have  not  been  considered  here,  as  I  have  had  to  limit  myself  to  special 


powders.^^  The  legend  to  the  map  in  fig.  25  gives  the  available  information  in 
a  concentrated  form. 

What  we  learn  from  the  map  in  Fig.  25  is  the  concentration  of  the  use  of 
psychotomimetic  snuff  drugs  to  certain  regions  of  South  America  with  a 
western  and  northw^estern  dominance,  if  we  consider  still  remaining  tribes 
or  such  extinct  or  no  longer  snuffing  tribes  from  which  data  have  been 
recorded.  What  we  do  not  learn  from  the  map,  but  perhaps  may  recognize 
by  reading  the  legend,  is  how  very  few  good  observations  there  are.  This 
fact  is  deplorable,  as  it  is  obvious  that  we  now  face  in  the  Uaupes  region  a 
strongly  disappearing  usage  (cf.  Wassen,  1965  : 16-17) . 

A  scattered  information  on  the  use  of  paricd  or  yopo,  by  which  words 
mostly  a  snuff  prepared  from  Piptadenia  seeds  seems  to  be  understood,  has 
been  saved.  When  we  turn  to  other  kinds  of  psychoactive  drugs  such  as  the 
snuff  prepared  of  exudates  of  Virola  species,  the  available  data  is  sparse 
indeed.  It  is  only  through  the  intensive  field  work  of  such  an  eminent 
botanist  as  Richard  Evans  Schultes,  the  repeated  collecting  and  observations 
among  the  Waica  of  Mr.  George  J.  Seitz  of  Rio  de  Janeiro,  and  scientific 
research  by  Prof.  Bo  Holmstedt,  that  we  now  are  able  to  fully  grasp  the 
outstanding  importance  of  this  drug. 

It  is  in  our  days  mostly  impossible  to  find  out  merely  from  vague  ethno- 
graphical descriptions,  which  kind  of  snuff  many  tribes  have  been  using; 
if  a  pure  powder  or  a  mixture,  and  in  the  latter  case  which  ingredients.  It 
was  only  through  a  chain  of  lucky  detective  work  in  the  documented  museum 
material  in  Gothenburg,  that  I  was  able  to  trace  back  to  the  Tucuna 
Indians  the  perfect  and  unusual  snuff  tablet  No.  1219  in  an  100-year  old 
Brazilian  museum  collection  in  Oslo  (see  Fig.  26,  and  Wassen,  1965:  80-86 
with  illustrations).  It  has  also  only  been  possible  to  consider  another  of 
the  three  snuff  trays  in  Oslo  (No.  1169)  as  probably  Tucanoan  (see  Wassen, 
1965:  68-80),  through  an  ethnographical  comparative  ornamental  study 
in  several  museum  collections.  It  is  this  unique  specimen  with  its  double 
human  figures  as  handles  (Fig.  27)  which  especially  leads  us  to  look  for 
an  origin  in  the  Amazon  region  also  for  the  snuff  trays  among  the  Atacameno. 
There  are  many  tablets  in  the  Atacaman  collections  with  two  human  figures 
as  handles,  but  I  use  this  opportunity  to  refer  specially  to  a  specimen  from 
Calama,  Antofagasta,  Chile  (fig.  27) ,  now  in  the  collection  of  the  Field 
Museum  of  Natural  History,  Chicago.  Dr.  Carl  Schuster  of  Woodstock, 
N.Y.,  who  takes  an  extreme  interest  in  all  double-headed  figures,  writes 
to  me  (May  9,  1966)  that  "the  fact  that  the  two-headed  snuff  tray  as  a 
type  occurs  in  N.W.  Brazil,  N.W.  Argentina  and  Chile  is  very  interesting. 
Double-headed  human  figures  begin  in  South  America  archeologically 
very  early — with  the  Valdivia  Culture  in  Ecuador;  and  I  know  of  some 
ethnological  specimens  (Caduveo,  Mato  Grosso),  etc." 

As  already  declared,  this  study  is  not  dealing  with  the  snuffing  of  tobacco. 
Such  a  study  has,  however,  been  undertaken  by  Zerries  in  his  Waika-hook 
(1964:  93-95,  map  11).  Naturally,  this  Americanist  when  trying  to  sum- 

For  the  rap6  dos  indios  from  the  Olmediopereiea  sclerophylla  tree,  see  Schultes,  R.  E.  1963  :  26. 


marize  the  details  of  both  distributions,  had  the  same  difficulties  everyone 
must  find  in  the  sources,  namely  that  many  times  we  cannot  differentiate  the 
two  kinds  of  snuff  when  reading  the  reports.  For  instance,  the  Guapore  tribes 
are  mixing  yofo  and  tobacco  powders,  and  many  tribes  use  both  powders. 
Zerries  (1964 :  95)  exemplifies  the  latter  cases  with  Waica,  Piro,  Tupari,  etc. 

Fig.  26. — Wooden  snuff  tray  representing  the  prego  monkey  demon  of  the  Tucuna 
Indians.  Length  25  cm.  Coll.  and  courtesy  of  the  Oslo  Univ.  Ethnogr.  Museum.  Spec- 
imen No.  1219. 


Fig.  27. — A,  Wooden  -paricd  tray,  length  20  cm.  Probably  Tucano.  Specimen  No.  1169 
in  the  Oslo  Univ.  Ethnogr.  Museum.  B,  Snuff  tray  of  wood,  archaeological  find  from 
Calama,  Antofagasta,  Chile.  Length  15  cm.  Coll.  Field  Museum  of  Natural  History, 

The  distribution  of  the  snuff  taking  indicates  that  we  have  to  look  upon 
northern  and  northwestern  South  America  as  the  origin  area  for  both 
powders.  Zerries  also  stresses  this  fact  and  points  out  that  we,  with  such 
an  important  exception  as  the  Maue,  generally  do  not  find  the  habit  of 
snuffing  among  the  Central  Tupi  tribes.  According  to  Zerries  (p.  95)  Eastern 
Brazil  should  not  be  taken  into  account  at  all,  as  the  only  statement  is 
dubious.  I  translate  the  following  from  Zerries  work  (1964 :  92)  :  "When  Uhle 
(1898,  p.  163/4),  following  Martyr,  wants  to  credit  the  Tupi  of  Eastern 
Brazil  for  snuffing  paricd,  this  seems  unlikely.^''  He  supports  this  state- 
ment with  the  information  that  such  a  specialist  on  the  Tupi-Guaranl 
peoples  as  A.  Metraux  does  not  say  anything  about  such  a  habit  among 
them.  This  is  perfectly  correct,  and  as  has  been  conclusively  shown  by 
Metraux  in  his  work  on  the  religion  of  the  Tupinamba  (1928:  88),  these 
Indians  were  blowing  smoke  of  the  petun  plant  (tobacco)  from  a  tube  for 


magic  and  healing  purposes.  On  the  other  hand  an  examination  of  the 
text  in  Uhle's  paper  shows  that  he  (dealing  with  the  parted  snuffing)  uses 
the  phrase  ".  .  .  and  has  been  occasionally  ascribed  to  the  Tupis  of  Eastern 
Brazil."  The  reference  given  by  Uhle  is  the  small  paper  by  A.  Ernst  (1889) , 
but  Zerries  had  been  misreading  and  found  the  name  of  Martyr  on  the  line 
just  above.  The  old  chronicler  should  be  omitted  in  this  case,  and  Ernst 
on  page  135  of  his  paper,  to  which  Uhle  refers,  is  only  mentioning  an  Old 
Guarani  word  petycui  which  has  been  translated  with  '■'■po  (powder)  de 
tahaco  para  ser  aspirado.^'' 

Leaving  the  Eastern  Tupi  aside  we  must,  however,  keep  in  mind  that 
the  very  words  curupd  and  paricd  for  the  snuff  of  Piptadenia  originate 
in  the  Tupi-Guarani  languages,  and  were  spread  through  the  Lingua  geral 
(Friederici,  1947:  229).  Esteban  Pinto  has  written  in  a  paper  on  the  medi- 
cine-men among  the  Tupinamba,  that  they,  in  order  to  get  in  a  state  of 
ecstacy,  used  '■Hlmogenicos  o  estupefacientes^  indicados  genericamente  con 
el  nombre  de  Kurupd  (Pardal)."  This  plant  he  identifies  with  Piptadenia 
species.  As  a  source  for  the  information  he  gives  only  '■''algv/nos  testinwnios.''^  ^* 

With  the  Tupi  word  curupd  in  mind,  we  must  realize  that  snuff  taking 
does  not  always  follow  the  language  families.  Zerries  has  found  how,  for 
instance,  several  Arawakan  tribes  north  of  the  Amazon  are  yopa  snuffers, 
while  other  tribes  of  the  same  language  stock  south  of  the  river  take  tobacco 
snuff.  Most  probably  the  botanists  would  be  the  best  equipped  to  find  if 
such  a  varying  use  has  its  explanation  in  the  distribution  of  the  botanical 
species.  In  the  following  chapter,  I  am  suggesting  that  the  old  word  cohoha 
from  the  West  Indies  and  a  word  khoba,  now  used  in  the  Atacameno  region, 
should  be  the  same,  and  have  spread  south  via  the  Arawak  and  the  Andes. 
This  finds  a  support  in  the  observations  by  Zerries  that  we  should  ascribe  the 
very  habit  of  snuff  taking  to  a  sub-Andean  stratum  of  tribes.  Here  the  sub- 
Andean  Arawakan  tribes  fit,  and  Zerries  finds  it  probable  that  the  clue 
to  the  snuffing  should  be  found  among  the  Arawak,  and  that  the  use  of  yopo 
should  be  considered  as  the  oldest  of  the  two  main  classes  of  snuff. 

In  my  work  from  1965  I  have  treated  the  same  prc^blems,  pointing  to  "a 
common  old  tradition  in  the  Amazonian  and  sub-Andean  regions" ;  equally, 
I  have  stressed  the  fact  of  "an  obvious  northern  Arawak  influence  far 
south  into  northwestern  Argentina"  ( Wassen,  1965 :  77-78) . 

Comparative  Outlooks  and  Symbolism 

Certain  living  and  extinct  tribes  and  certain  archaeological  and  ethno  - 
graphical objects  have  been  mentioned  in  this  paper  in  regard  to  their  im- 
portance for  the  whole  study.  We  have  first  the  ceremonially  used  cemi-&gures 
of  wood  and  stone  in  the  West  Indies,  with  platforms  on  top  for  the  placing 
of  cohoha.  A  mainland  ethnographic  equivalent  to  these  Antillean  cohoha 
"platforms"  are  the  table  tops  used  by  the  Tupari  in  Brazil  when  snuffing 

"  Pinto,  Esteban.  1944  :  324. 


We  have  through  Oviedo's  drawing,  the  descriptions  in  words  and  the 
find  in  the  La  Gonave  cave,  a  fairly  good  knowledge  of  the  more  simple  and 
the  more  elaborated  snuff  tubes  of  wood  on  the  Islands.  These  specimen 
have  their  counterparts  in  the  Y-shaped  tubes  used  among  many  mainland 
tribes.  We  recognize  the  round  snuff  trays,  which  Las  Casas  describes  from 
the  Antilles  as  perfectly  made  pieces,  when  we  see  the  generally  much  simpler 
round  trays  used  by  the  Llanos  tribes  of  northern  South  America,  and  cer- 
tainly also  the  more  unusual  round  snuff  trays  found  archaelogically  in  the 
marginal  Atacamefio  region.  For  the  latter  I  refer  for  instance  to  plate  34 
in  Le  Paige's  description  of  San  Pedro  de  Atacama  (1965) ,  where  the  author 
refers  to  a  grave  for  25  adults,  a  child's  offering  and  also  the  offering  of 
snuff  trays.  Finally,  we  are  certain  to  look  for  the  origin  of  the  cohoha  drug 
itself  in  the  now  more  and  more  studied  species  of  plants  which  botanically 
belong  to  the  South  American  mainland.  But  the  very  word  cohoha!  Would 
it  be  possible  to  trace  it  back  to  some  actual  situation  and  still  find  it  used 
on  the  mainland?  It  looks  as  if  it  should  be  possible,  and  I  will  return  to 
this  problem  later  in  this  chapter.  I  have  already  mentioned  that  the  word 
Gojoha  occurs  in  northern  Venezuela. 

In  this  paper  I  have  repeated  my  opinion  from  1965,  that  the  elaborate 
stone  figure  from  the  R.  Trombetas  region  shown  in  Fig.  13  has  been  espe- 
cially sculptured  and  used  to  hold  a  psychotomimetic  snuff.  The  whole  char- 
acter of  this  famous  piece  is  ceremonial,  and  we  meet  in  the  sculpture  a  very 
important  South  American  combination  of  man  and  jaguar.  It  is  therefore 
a  small  but  important  piece  of  information  that  we  have  from  Dr.  Schultes, 
when  he  tells  us  that  the  Inga  and  Kamsa  Indians  in  the  Valley  of  Sibundoy, 
Colombia,  called  a  narcotic  prepared  from  the  leaves  of  Methysticodendron 
Amesianwni,  mits-hway  horrachero,  or  the  "intoxicant  of  the  jaguar."  Even 
if  no  further  explanation  has  been  given  as  to  the  nature  of  the  relationship 
jaguar — intoxicant — ^we  have  at  least  an  indication  of  a  connection  between 
the  feline  and  an  intoxicant  with  certain  properties  for  the  users.  May  we 
guess  that  the  jaguar  is  thought  of  as  the  "owner"  of  the  drug? 

The  alter-ego  sculpture  in  Fig.  13  is  of  stone.  When  we  try  to  get  a  picture 
of  the  archaelogical  distribution  of  snuflang  paraphernalia  in  the  Amazon 
region,  we  must  take  into  account  that  very  little  of  perishable  material,  such 
as  wood,  has  been  saved  to  our  days.  As  pointed  out  in  Wassen,  1965 :  77,  an 
origin  in  the  Highland  Tiahuanaco  has  often  been  considered  for  the  trays 
and  other  snuffing  paraphernalia  now  found  in  northern  Chile  and  north- 
western Argentina.  Apart  from  the  fact  that  snuffing  paraphernalia  now 
have  been  dated  in  Chile  to  an  earlier  epoch  than  that  with  an  influence  from 
Tiahuanaco,  I  have  for  ethnographical  reasons  considered  an  origin  of  the 
marginal  Atacameno  snuffing  material  in  the  Amazonian  and  sub-Andean 
region.  I  have  later  found  that  Rene  Naville,  in  an  article  published  in 
Switzerland  in  1959,  more  or  less  has  been  of  the  same  opinion ;  that  is,  that 
we  should  look  for  the  origin  of  the  snuff  ceremonialism  in  the  Amazon  re- 
gion, possibly  among  the  Arawak  Indians;  but  that  later  a  cult  associated 

65  Schultes,  R.  C.  1955  :  10. 


with  it  in  the  Atacama  region  and  manifested  in  human  offering,  had  an 
Andean  origin.  Mr.  Naville's  contribution  to  the  whole  problem  is  valuable, 
and  I  prefer  to  quote  him  here  in  his  language,  French : 

On  peut  conclure  en  disant  que  si  I'absorption  d'un  narcotique  au  moyen  de  tubes  et  de 
tablettes  semble  etre  originaire  d'Amazonie,  peut-etre  arawak,  son  usage  rituel  et  son 
association  avec  le  culte  rendu  a  une  divinite  accompagne  de  sacrifices  humains  est 
tres  probablement  d'origine  andine.  II  est  done  possible  que  ses  deux  pratiques  se  soient 
conjointes  dans  le  Nord  du  Cbili  et  le  Nord-Ouest  de  1' Argentine,  points  d'intersections 
des  grands  courants  culturels  venus  du  Nord  et  de  I'Est,  pour  donner  naissanee  aux 
pifeces  decrites  plus  haut.™ 

From  what  already  has  been  stated  in  this  work,  it  is  with  full  evidence 
clear  that  wooden  tablets  and  tubes  for  the  taking  of  some  kind  of  a  snuff 
must  have  been  of  outstanding  importance  in  the  now  marginal  region  where 
once  the  Atacameno  dominated.  According  to  Bennett  ( 1946 :  599) ,  "the  term 
Atacameno  {Atacama,  Kunza)  refers  to  a  people,  with  a  distinctive  language 
and  culture,  who  once  occupied  the  northern  Chilean  provinces  of  Tacna, 
Arica,  Tarapaca,  Antofagasta,  and  Atacama,  and  much  of  the  Northwest 
Argentine  provinces  of  Los  Andes,  Salta,  and  Jujuy."  "Today,  the  few  re- 
maining Atacameno  are  located  in  isolated  sections  of  Chile  and  the  Puna  de 
Jujuy,  but  culturally  and  linguistically  they  have  been  absorbed  by  Ayrroara 
or  Spanish." 

One  may  ask  if  in  such  a  region  anything  is  remembered  about  the  ancient 
me  of  snwffing  paraphernalia  among  the  modem  mestizo  population? 

As  the  Atacameno  were  basically  agriculturists  and  herders,  my  question 
came  after  I  had  read  two  special  articles  both  dealing  with  the  actual  culture 
of  typical  parts  of  the  old  region.^"^  Both  authors,  Horst  Nachtigall  (1965) 
and  Ana  Maria  Mariscotti  (1966)  underline  the  importance  of  traditionally 
old  offering  ceremonies  to  Pachamama,  so-called  senaladas,  during  which 
the  offers  of  llama  animals  (or  part  of  them) ,  alcohol,  chicha,  coca  leaves,  etc. 
are  obligatory  and  important. 

The  cultural  correspondence  with  the  samiri  concept  among  the  Aymara 
and  Chipaya  Indians  of  the  Highland  as  studied  by  the  late  Alfred  Metraux 
during  his  expedition  in  1930  seems  important  for  a  very  special  reason, 
namely  that  it  has  been  suggested  by  Sven  Loven  that  we  consider  the  Taino 
word  cemi  as  related  to  Samiri,  because  of  certain  facts,  among  them  that 
the  Arawak  had  asserted  themselves  also  in  the  western  Highland.^® 

On  my  written  question  to  authors  Nachtigall  and  Mariscotti  both  declare 
that  the  former  use  of  the  tabletas  de  rape,  tubes,  etc.  now  is  absolutely  un- 
known to  anybody  in  the  actual  rural  population.^® 

K>  Naville,  Ren6.  1959  :  3. 

5'  Nachtigall,  Horst.  1965.  Mariscotti,  Ana  Maria.  1966. 

^  Wass^n,  H.  1934  :  633.  "Dr.  Sven  Lov4n,  at  the  museum  of  Gothenburg,  has  mentioned  for  me 
that  he  for  certain  reasons — among  these  the  fact  that  the  Arawaks  have  asserted  themselves  also 
in  the  western  highland — considers  the  constituent  sami  of  the  word  samiri  to  be  the  same  as  the 
Tainan  zeml." 

™  Mrs.  Mariscotti,  after  four  different  periods  of  investigation  in  the  Quebrada  de  Huamahuaca 
and  Puna  de  Jujuy  can  assure  "that  the  use  of  the  tabletas  de  rap6  which  with  such  frequency 
are  embodied  in  the  "Puna  Complex"  of  Bennett,  is  absolutely  unljnown."  (Letter,  November  16, 


If  we  now  return  to  the  senaladas^  both  Nachtigall  (1965 :  216)  and  Mari- 
scotti  (1966 :  74)  report  the  'burning  of  leaves  of  khoa  or  khoha,  an  aromatic 
plant  for  which  they  botanically  refer  to  Mentha  pulegnmv  (of  the  Family 
Labiatae).  This  is  said  by  La  Barre  to  be  used  also  amongst  the  Highland 
Aymara.'"'  With  a  letter  of  December  5th,  1966,  Mrs.  Ana  M.  Mariscotti  has 
had  the  kindness  to  send  me  a  botanical  sample  of  khoha  collected  during  her 
latest  trip  to  Puna  de  Jujuy.  This  botanical  sample  has  been  examined  by 
the  botanist,  Dr.  Bo  Peterson,  chief  of  the  Museum  of  the  Gothenburg 
University's  Botanical  Institution.  According  to  Dr.  Peterson  it  is  not  at 
all  the  question  of  a  genus  of  the  Labiatae  Family,  but  instead  a  genus  of 
the  Family  Gompositae,  namely  Lepidophyllum  quadrangulare.  Reference 
has  been  given  to  Angel  Lulio  Cabrera's  '"''Sinopsm  del  genero  Lepidophyllura 
{C ompositaey  in  the  Boletm  de  la  Sociedad  Argentina  de  Botanica  (vol. 
I:  48-58,  La  Plata,  1945),  where  the  author  also  gives  the  popular  names 
chacha  and  coba  for  this  plant. 

In  accordance  with  what  has  been  said  above  regarding  a  possible  rela- 
tion between  the  word  samiri  and  the  Island  Arawak  cem^,  it  is  also  inter- 
esting to  suggest  a  relationship  between  the  Island  Arawak  (Taino)  word 
Gohoba  and  the  khoba  for  an  aromatic  herb  in  the  former  Aracameho  region 
with  its  influence  from  the  Highland  and  its  trade  relations.  I  would  like 
to  suggest  that  cohoba  and  khoba  are  the  same  words,  even  if  they  now  refer 
to  different  plant  material  and  are  used  in  two  widely  separated  geographic 
areas.  The  word  we  still  meet  so  far  south  in  the  form  khoba  should  in  that 
case  belong  to  an  old  stratum  of  Arawak  influence.  Professor  Nils  M.  Holmer, 
specialist  on  Amerindian  languages,  write  to  me  (November  17,  1966)  that 
he  is  sure  that  an  Andean  khowa  {khoa)  with  a  strongly  aspirated  kh-^  may 
have  been  heard  as  cohoba. 

The  senaladas  among  the  present  rural  mestizo  population  in  Puna  de 
Atacama  and  Pune  de  Jujuy  represent  offshoots  of  an  old  Highland  tra- 
dition with  offering  to  a  deity  (Pachamama)  principally  ruling  the  agricul- 
tural cycle.  To  the  Indians,  gods,  or  spirits,  were  benevolent  or  ill-disposed, 
and  the  medicine-men  or  other  important  tribal  functionaries  had  to  face 
a  situation  which  I  described  in  1965  as  influencing  the  benevolent  ones  and 
to  weaken  or  if  possible  destroy  the  ill-disposed  ones.  I  have  also  said  that 
"we  are  in  our  full  rig'ht  to  believe  that  such  important  goals  have  been 
reflected  also  in  the  art  of  the  Indians,  even  if  we  now  mostly  lack  the 
mythological  or  other  information  explaining  the  connections"  (Wassen, 
1965 :  38) .  As  the  psychotomimetic  snuffs  must  be  considered  as  a  means  of 
contact  with  the  spirit  world,  it  is  consequently  fully  understandable  that 
we  find  Indian  representations  of  their  supernatural  beings  expressed  in  the 
art  concerning  the  snuffing  paraphernalia.  We  can,  as  an  example,  mention 
the  ja-guar  motif  in  the  sculpture  on  ethnographically  known  snuff  trays 
from  the  Cashuena  Indians  of  the  Trombetas  and  Cachorro  Rivers,  Brazil.*'^ 

*°  La  Barre,  Weston,  1948 :  184.  "The  leaves  and  stems  of  qoa  (Mentha  pulegium  Linnaeus)  are 
burned  in  the  fields  "to  malce  a  good  harvest,"  but  it  is  uncertain  if  this  is  done  for  magical  reasons, 
or  for  the  same  sound  fertilizing  reasons  with  which  they  place  animal  manueres  on  the  field." 
Cf.  same  author,  p.  56,  about  the  use  of  Mentha  pulegium,  as  a  condiment. 

"  See  Frikel,  1961,  describing  the  moH  feast.  Quoted  in  Wass6n  and  Holmstedt,  1963  :  21-23. 


As  the  illustration  on  page  8  in  Frikel's  paper  of  1961  on  the  nwri  feast 
among  the  Cachuena  unfortunately  is  very  unsharp,  I  am  glad  that,  thanks 
to  my  friend  Dr.  Carl  Schuster  of  Woodstock,  N.Y.,  I  can  publish  two 
photos  here  (Figs.  28  and  29)  of  the  Cashuena  specimens.  Fig.  28  corre- 
sponds to  the  illustration  on  page  8  in  Frikel's  paper.  Among  the  implement 
for  snufSng  mori^  the  "shovel"  or  tray  at  the  right  has  two  confronted 
jaguars  on  its  haaidle.  Frikel  calls  the  snuff  tray  yard-kukuru^  which  in 
Cashuena  means  "figure  of  the  mythological  onga  (jaguar)  yara^\  The 
yara  are  '■'■hichos  do  fvm,do,  da  agua^''  "water- jaguars",  conceived  as  a  pair, 
male  and  female,''^  a  fact  also  of  interest  for  the  principle  found  in  Amazonas 
that  "magical  substances  are  always  in  pairs,  male  and  female"  as  discussed 
in  Wassen  1965  (p.  76)  in  regard  to  the  double-headed  paricd  tray  of  Tu- 
canoan  origin.  The  Cashuena  used  to  have  special  songs,  iwarawd-yorenmru^ 

62  Frikel.  1961  :  7-8. 

Fig.  28. — Cashuena  Indian  snuffing  paraphernalia  for  t,he  morl  feast.  Mythological 
'water-jaguars'  form  the  handle  of  the  tray.  Photo  courtesy  Dr.  Carl  Schuster,  Wood- 
stock, N.Y.  Collection  in  Brazil. 


Fig.  29. — Pair  of  jaguars,  one,  as  of  1954,  "three  or  four  generations  old"  handle  of  a 
Cashuena  snuff  tray.  Coll.  in  Brazil.  Photo  courtesy  Dr.  Carl  Schuster. 

for  their  snuffing  boards.  It  is  deeply  regretted  that  they  now  are  lost  (Frikel, 
1961:  9)  as  they  probably  could  have  helped  to  explain  the  symbolism  of 
the  carved  motives.  As  regards  the  Maue  we  have  the  statement  by  Pereira 
(1954:  68)  that  their  medicine-men  {pages)  used  the  paricd  to  get  in  trance 
and  be  able  to  contact  their  gods  of  the  waters  and  the  jungle.  We  are 
probably  save  to  assume  that  the  "water-jaguars"  of  the  Cashuena  stand 
for  such  deities  or  spirits. 

Dr.  Carl  Schuster  took  his  photo  in  Fig.  28  in  the  Convento  dos  Francis- 
canos  in  Santarem,  and  the  objects  were  then  said  to  be  kept  in  a  Franciscan 
museum  at  Ipauarana,  Paraiba  State.  At  the  same  time  (November  1954) 
Schuster  also  copied  a  photo  of  an  handle  of  aji  old  snuff  tray  from  the 
Cashuena,  said  to  be  3  or  4  generations  old,  c.  80-100  years.  This  handle 
(Fig.  29)  has  been  published  in  a  drawing  on  page  7  in  Frikel's  paper  from 
1961.  We  see  a  pair  of  jaguars,  originally  with  beads  in  their  eyes.  Father 
Frikel  informed  Dr.  Schuster  at  the  time,  that  a  complete  tray  which  he 
wanted  was  buried  with  a  shaman.  This  information  confirms  my  statement 
from  1965 :  "If  also  in  former  days  the  carved  and  ceremonially  used  snuff 
trays  were  placed  with  the  dead  this  could  very  well  explain  their  scarcity 
in  collections.^^ 

For  the  tribes  of  the  Uaupes-Caqueta  region,  Groldman  has  informed  us 
that  "the  shaman  in  the  area  is  generally  referred  to  as  a  jaguar,  and  com- 
bines the  functions  of  medicine-man  and  sorcerer.  Older  shamans  assume 
the  guise  of  the  jaguar  and  are  particularly  feared.  Every  jaguar  who  at- 
tacks human  beings  is  assumed  to  be  a  shaman,  and  a  shaman  who  is  sup- 
pected  of  such  an  attack  is  not  infrequently  put  to  death.  As  the  spirit  of  a 
murdered  shaman  enters  another  jaguar,  however,  little  relief  is  expected 
from  killing  them"  (Goldman,  1948:  796).  Bodiger  (1965:  150)  has  shown 
how  the  names  for  jaguar  and  shaman  are  similar  or  identical  in  many  of  the 
tribal  languages,  and  how  the  shaman  through  this  identity  in  name  is  con- 
sidered to  have  the  power  of  transforming  himself  into  a  jaguar — this  in  a 
detailed  investigation  of  the  Tucano  religion. 

Again  and  again  we  come  back  to  the  importance  of  the  jaguar  motif 
for  paraphernalia  related  to  snuffing.  It  is  most  likely  that  tribes  using 
jaguar  leg-bones  as  snuff  containers  do  this  out  of  some  magical  reasons 
related  to  the  real  and  magical  power  of  the  animal.  And,  when  we  find  a 

"  Wass^n.  1965  :  74. 


4  cm.  long  puma,  figure  of  stone  dominating  the  snuff  tray  No.  10718  from 
Tiahuanaco  in  the  Ethnographical  Museum  of  Buenos  Aires  (Coll.  De- 
benedetti,  1911),  it  is  really  not  surprising  (Fig.  30).*^  In  the  tabletas  de 
rape  of  the  Atacameno,  the  jaguar  is  seen  as  a  mighty  god.  Also  for  this  a 
highly  interesting  parallel  with  pure  Amazonian  ethnographical  material 
can  be  presented. 

In  the  Ethnographical  Museum  at  Munich  we  find  the  so-called  Erlangen 
ceremonial  staff,  an  object  wMch  has  been  studied  by  Zerries  and  by  him 
found  to  be  a  medicine-man's  staff,  probably  from  the  Carib  Warikyana 
or  Arikiena  of  the  Kachuru  (Cachorro)  River.  Frikel  considers  the 
Cashuena,  often  mentioned  in  this  work,  as  descendants  of  the  old  Warikyana 
(see  Wassen,  1965 :  33),  and  consequently  every  old  piece  of  art  from  that 
tribe  or  region  must  to  be  of  immediate  interest  also  for  a  study  of  cere- 
monially used  snuff  trays.  Zerries  found  on  the  Erlangen  staff  the  super- 
natural vulture,  the  medicine-man's  most  important  helper,  and  the  figure 
of  a  jaguar,  "the  werwolf  of  the  South  American  shamans."^  An  ajithro- 
pomorphic  jaguar  (or  "werwolf"  figures)  is  now  seen  in  Fig.  31  from  photos 

Photo  kindly  supplied  by  Dr.  Carl  Schuster. 
"5  See  complete  description  in  Zerries,  1962,  and  his  photo  on  p.  615. 

Fig.  30. — Snuff  tray  with  4  cm.  long  puma  of  stone.  Tiahuanaco.  Coll.  No.  10718  (De- 
benedetti,  1911),  Museo  Etnogrdfico,  Buenos  Aires.  Photo  courtesy  Dr.  Carl  Schuster. 


Fig.  31. — Ornamental  detail,  anthropomorphic  jaguar  on  a  trumpet  of  hard  red  wood. 
Old  specimen  in  the  Pitts  Rivers  Museum  (No.  130,  J.  44),  without  provenience  but 
certainly  from  the  Lower  Amazon  Region,  probably  the  old  Warlkyana.  Photographs 
courtesy  of  Mr.  Jeremy  P.  S.  Montagu,  London. 

which  have  been  kindly  supplied  by  Mr.  Jeremy  P.  S.  Montagu,  London. 
The  figure  shows  a  "side-blast  trumpet  made  of  two  semicylindrical  pieces 
of  hard  red  wood."  This  specimen,  now  in  the  Pitt  Rivers  Museum  (entry 
130.J.44)  came  from  "the  Bodleian"  to  the  University  Museum  in  Oxford, 
presumably,  then  transferred  to  the  Pitt  Rivers  Museum  in  1886."  It  is 
an  old  piece  of  Indian  art  for  which  the  provenience  is  lacking,  but  as  far 
as  I  imderstand  it  should  be  referred  to  the  same  region  as  the  Erlangen 
staff,  that  is,  the  Lower  Amazon  region  and  from  the  old  Warikyana  in  the 
art  center  of  the  Rio  das  contas  (cf .  Wassen,  1965 :  34) .  A  similar  123  cm.  long- 
trumpet  with  jaguar  motif  (his  tail  curled  down)  from  an  old  collection 

262-016  0-67— 20 


Fig.  32.— Snufif  tray  from  "Quitor  5",  San  Pedro  de  Atacama,  Chile.  Dominating  an- 
thropomorphic feline  god.  Drawing  after  photographic  illustration  in  Le  Paige,  1964. 

and  the  Amazon  is  found  in  the  Rijksmuseum  voor  Volkenkunde,  Ley  den. 
It  belonged  originally  to  "Het  Kon.  Kabinet  van  Zeldzaamheden." 

An  important  detail  in  this  jaguar-man  on  a  trumpet  is  the  tail,  which 
goes  up  on  the  back  and  ends  in  a  characteristic  curl.  The  reason  I  find  it 
important  might  be  understood  from  Fig.  32,  in  which  the  figure  on  a  snuff 
tray  found  in  "Quitor  5"  in  the  region  of  San  Pedro  de  Atacama,  Chile,  by 
Gustavo  Le  Paige,  has  been  copied  from  plate  125  in  Le  Paige's  work  of  1964. 
The  snuff  tray  from  Chile  is  an  expression  of  the  same  idea  of  a  jaguar  (or 
puma)  -man-deity  as  found  on  the  old  trumpet,  and  the  tail  is  a  characteristic 
of  both  figures.  To  me  these  specimens  form  another  link  in  a  chain  of  evi- 
dence for  an  early  Amazon  cultural  influence  on  the  Atacaman  region. 
Thanks  to  a  numerous  series  of  snuff  tray  finds  in  the  dry  region.  Father  Le 
Paige  has  been  able  to  demonstrate  specific  manifestations  of  magico-reli- 
gious  art  in  which  the  taking  of  a  man's  head  is  involved.  In  snuffing  para- 
phernalia which  he  found,  he  can  follow  a  complete  series  of  ceremonies,  from 
the  presentation  of  a  condemned  man  with  backbound  hands  and  the  execu- 
tioner with  his  attribute,  an  axe,  to  the  priest  carrying  the  head  of  the  vic- 
tim— in  that  important  moment  imitating  the  sacred  puma  god  by  walking  on 
all  fours  and  carrying  a  puma  mask  and  the  wings  of  a  condor.*'' 

°«  Le  Paige,  Gustavo.  1964:  61.  Mostny  (1964)  has  been  able  to  show  such  ceremonialism  also 
in  the  petroglyphs  of  Angostura,  Prov.  of  Antofagasta,  Chile. 


Gustavo  Le  Paige  and  other  archaeologists  working  in  the  Atacaman  re- 
gion find  this  richness  of  evidence  thanks  to  a  dry  climate.  What  the  anthro- 
pologists have  found,  or  may  expect  to  find,  in  the  eternally  wet  Amazon 
region,  are  just  a  few  fragments  of  a  formerly  rich  ceremonialism  in  which 
the  taking  of  psychotomimetic  drugs  seems  to  have  been  integrated. 

A  group  of  snuff  trays  from  the  Amazon  region  with  an  obviously  im- 
portant zoomorphic  motif  are  the  Maue  specimens  said  to  depict  caymans  or 
snakes.  Several  of  these  old  fine  Maue  wooden  trays  have  fortunately  been 
saved  in  museum  collections.^^  The  specimen  in  Oslo  is  shown  also  here  (Fig. 
33) .  Typical  for  most  of  the  Maue  trays,  is  the  fact  that  they  are  rectangular 
in  form  and  have  a  finely  polished  depository  for  the  snuff,  open  on  the  edge 
of  the  board.  The  other  edge  of  the  tray  ends  in  an  animal's  head,  often 
with  an  accentuated  tongue,  a  trait  typical  for  representations  of  snakes  but 
hardly  for  caymans  in  which  the  tongue  is  not  easily  observable.  It  is  true 
that  a  Maue  Indian  has  once  stated  that  a  paricd  tray  owned  by  him  repre- 
sented a  yacare,  but  as  I  have  said,  this  label  can  not  be  stamped  on  all  snuff 
trays  from  this  tribe.''^  Anthropological  colleagues  such  as  Etta  Becker-Don- 
ner  in  Vienna,  and  Antonio  Serrano  in  Argentina,  as  well  as  Otto  Zerries  in 
Munich,  seem  to  favor  the  idea  of  snakes."^  The  Atacama  specimen  published 
in  Fig.  22  has,  however,  a  feline  head.  As  this  archaeological  specimen  is 
much  older  than  the  19th  century  ethnographical  objects  from  the  Maue,  it 
is  of  interest  also  for  the  discussion  of  the  Maue  pieces.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
some  of  the  Maue  tray  handles  in  the  form  of  animal  heads  may  be  con- 
ceived as  conventionalized  feline  heads,  perhaps  with  some  idea  of  "water- 
jaguars"  behind  as  in  the  case  with  the  Cashuena.  The  outstreatched  tongue 
is  accentuated  in  the  feline  powder  cup  published  as  Fig.  5  in  Zerries :  1965. 
A  most  interesting  snuff  tray  with  two  feline  heads  found  in  a  grave  at  the 
Pucara  de  Lasana  (Rio  Loa,  Chile)  has  been  published  by  Spahni  (1964, 
Fig.  5).  His  Fig.  4,  showing  a  snuff  tray  from  another  grave  said  to  repre- 
sent an  armadillo,  most  probably  also  depicts  a  feline. 

Another  group  of  animals  which  in  a  particular  symbolic  and  magic  way 
seem  to  be  connected  with  the  use  of  drugs  are  birds  with  very  good  eyesight, 
such  as  eagles,  vultures,  very  often  condors,  and  also  such  good  night -hunting 
birds  as  owls  (the  Cashuena  snuff  tray  in  Fig.  28) .  I  have  treated  this  in 
detail  in  my  work  from  1965  (pp.  24-29),  and  I  can  reiterate  here,  that  we 
are  entitled  to  consider  birds  as  patrons  for  ecstatic  intoxication  in  several 
Indian  societies.  I  refer,  for  instance,  to  snuff  trays  with  condors,  bird-shaped 
snuffers,  snuffing  tubes  which  terminate  in  hollow  nuts,  often  shaped  like 
a  bird's  head  (Fig.  34),  and  also,  to  direct  explanations  by  medicine-men 
that  they  use  feather  crowns,  etc.  so  that  they  may  see  better  into  the  world 
of  spirits.  This  connection  between  the  shamans  as  users  of  drugs  and  the 
world  of  bird-spirits  is  a  fact.  The  reason  for  it  is  probably  to  be  found  in 

«7  See  figs.  8,  10,  11,  12  and  15  in  Wass6n  1965. 

«8  Wass6n.  1965  :  43. 

89  Wass6n.  1965  :  43  and  50. 


Fig.  34. — Snuff  tubes  from  the  Guapore  Territory.  A,  Monde  Indians,  after  photo  by 
Caspar;  B,  Salamay  Indians,  coll.  Mus.  f.  Volkerkunde  der  Univ.,  Zurich,  No.  11307; 
C-D,  Tupari  Indians,  coll.  Dr.  Franz  Caspar  in  the  Mus.  f.  Volkerkunde,  Basel,  No. 
IV  C  9052,  length  88  cm.  (photo  and  drawing  of  the  same  tube). 


the  drugs/"  and  I  point,  in  passing,  to  the  complex  of  Siberian  shamans  being 
described  as  of  bird-type,  who  visit  the  spirits  up  in  the  air.  This,  inci- 
dentally, is  a  contrast  to  the  other  type  of  Siberian  shamans,  who  have  their 
contacts  in  the  world  belowJ^  The  ideas  among  the  Koryak  about  the  Big- 
Raven  and  the  fly-agaric  give  a  good  illustration  of  this.''^  I  hope  that  later 
a  common  component  will  be  found  in  all  this,  through  the  analytical  work 
by  experts  on  the  drugs  involved. 

No  specific  search  has  been  performed  for  this  paper  regarding  the  pos- 
sible use  of  snuff  tubes  outside  America,  where  they  seem  to  be  autoch- 
thonous." Br.  Gordon  Willey  (1966:  22),  has  counted  "the  chewing  of  lime 
or  ashes  with  some  kind  of  a  narcotic"  as  one  of  the  very  ancient  traits,  pos- 
sibly the  survival  of  a  Palaeolithic  heritage,  which  "are  shared  by  Asia  and 
the  New  World."  Willey  naturally  refers  to  the  use  of  betel-nut  in  Asia  and 
the  coca  leaf  in  South  America,  and  he  finds  a  considerable  age  for  the  trait 
in  the  Americas. 


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'0  Wassfin.  1965  :  29.  I  can  add  that  the  sensation  of  being  airborne  through  the  taking  of 
ayahuasca  has  been  described  from  the  Zaparo  already  by  Manuel  Vlllavicencio  in  1858  (p.  372)  :" 
Su  accion  parece  dirijirse  a  escitar  el  sistema  nervioso ;  todos  los  sentidos  se  avxvan  i  todas  las 
facultades  se  despiertan  ;  sienten  vahldos  i  rodeos  de  cabeza,  luego  la  sensaci6n  de  elevarse  al  aire  i 
comenzar  un  viaje  a^reo  ;  .  .  ." 

"  La  Barre,  Weston.  1964  :  121.  "En  Slb^rle,  peuve  6tre  distingu^s  deux  types  de  chamans  :  le 
chaman-oiseau  qui  vislte  les  esprlts  dans  les  airs  et  rggne  sur  le  temps  qu'il  fait,  et  le  chaman-renne 
qui  visite  le  monde  souterraln  et  rggne  sur  les  esprits  des  vivants  et  de  morts." 

"  Jochelsen,  Waldemar.  1905  :  120. 

"  Prof.  B.  Holmstedt  has  drawn  my  attention  to  a  paper  by  Chinachoti  and  Tangchai  (1957  :  689), 
where  the  U-shaped  metal  tubes  used  in  Thailand  for  the  nasal  absorbtion  of  a  mixed  tobacco 
powder  has  been  treated.  A  pair  of  such  tubes  with  the  commercial  packages  of  such  ingredients 
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The  Botanical  Origins  of 
South  American  Snuffs 

Richard  Evans  Schultes 

Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University,  Cambridge,  Massachusetts 


I.  Introduction   291 

II.  Princii)al  Sources  of  South  American  Snuffs   292 

III.  Sources  of  Snuffs  of  Lesser  Importance   302 

IV.  Final  Query   304 

V.  Bibliography   305 


Man  in  primitive  societies  the  world  around  has  found  the  most  ingenious 
Avays  of  administering  narcotics.  Intoxicating  plants,  or  products  from  them, 
have  been  chewed  in  crude  form  or  variously  elaborated  and  consumed.  They 
have  been  drunk  as  decoctions  or  infusions.  A  few  have  been  prepared  in  the 
form  of  thick  syrups  or  pastes  that  are  licked  or  smeared  on  the  tongue  or 
gums.  Some  have  been  smoked  directly,  as  in  pipes,  cigars  or  cigarettes,  or 
the  fumes  of  them  have  been  inhaled  in  sundry  ways.  There  are  those  that 
have  been  applied  to  the  skin  or  membranes  in  the  form  of  ointments  or 
unguents.  Several  are  known  to  have  been  taken  as  an  enema.  Snuffing  has 
been  the  preferred  method  of  using  a  niunber  of  these  agents. 

The  verb  to  snuff  (and  the  corresponding  German  schupfen  and  Skandina- 
vian  srmsa) ,  stems,  of  course,  from  the  same  Germanic  root  that  has  given  us 
the  English  word  to  sniff.  There  is  a  significant  difference  between  the  two 
actions.  Whereas  one  sniffs  an  odour  or  fragrance — that  is,  a  substance  such 
as  an  essential  oil,  smoke  or  ethereal  component  of  the  atmosphere — one  snuffs 
actually  solid  substances  variously  inserted  or  drawn  into  the  nostrils. 

The  snuffing  of  plant  materials  for  narcotic,  especially  for  hallucinogenic, 
effects  seems  to  be  peculiarly  New  World.  To  be  sure,  sternutation  induced 
by  various  means  is  a  recognized  therapeutic  practice  in  many  cultures.  In 
the  Middle  Ages,  European  medicine  recommended  sternutation  to  draw 
off  bad  humours.  Hellebore,  the  German  Niesicurz  and  English  sneezewort, 
was  one  of  the  most  favoured  therapeutic  sternutatory  powders  taken  into 
the  nostrils  together  with  marjoram  and  other  plants  to  cleanse  the  brain 
through  sneezing.  Sternutation  was  used  even  for  prophesying  and  in  super- 
stition and  magic.  A  person  who  sneezed  on  New  Year's  morning,  for  example, 
would  not  die  during  the  year.  Snuffing  now  refers  usually  to  the  use  of  to- 
bacco. This  is  true  in  languages  other  than  English.  The  German  schupfen, 
for  example,  has  been  more  or  less  restricted  to  the  snuffing  of  tobacco  and 
other  stimulants  since  the  17th  Century. 


It  does  seem  probable,  however,  that  the  use  of  narcotics  as  snuffs  is  of 
American  origin  and  that  it  went  to  the  Old  World  with  tobacco.  The  custom 
of  snuffing  tobacco,  widespread  apparently  in  pre-Conquest  America,  became 
common  and  accepted  as  a  recreational  practice  devoid  of  therapeutic  intent 
in  Spain  during  the  first  quarter  of  the  l7th  Century.  There  is  evidence  that 
it  was  imported  directly  from  the  New  World  and  that  tobacco  snuffing, 
as  well  as  chewiag  and  smoking,  represents  one  of  the  most  significant  cul- 
ture traits  passed  on  to  the  western  civilisation  from  the  American  aborigines. 

Principal  Sources  of  South  American  Snuffs 

Undoubtedly  the  most  important  snuffing  material  in  pre-Conquest  Amer- 
ica was  tobacco.  At  least  two  species  of  tobacco,  possibly  several  additional 
ones,  are  known  to  have  been  employed  as  a  narcotic  {4-) .  These  two  are  Nico- 
tiana  Tdbacum  and  N.  rustica.  Nicotiana  Tabacum,  from  which  comes  most  of 
the  tobacco  that  is  smoked,  snuffed  and  chewed  at  the  present  time,  was  like- 
wise the  source  of  most  of  the  narcotic  in  pre-Conquest  South  America,  Middle 
America  and  the  West  Indies.  Originally  a  tropical  species,  it  has  been 
cultivated  so  long  that  it  is  not  known  in  the  truly  wild  state.  Nicotiana  rus- 
tica^ native  to  North  America,  where  it  is  still  wild  in  some  localities,  is  a 
hardier  species  thought  to  have  originated  in  Mexico.  It  is  this  species  that 
was  smoked  and  probably  snuffed  by  Indians  of  Mexico  and  North  America 
before  the  arrival  of  the  European.  Europeans  introduced  Nicotiana  Tdbacum 
from  the  Old  World  to  North  America  long  after  the  Conquest,  and  imtil 
this  introduction,  it  was  apparently  unknown  in  most  of  the  territory  now 
included  in  the  United  States  and  Canada  {9) . 

Although  there  are  indirect  evidences  that  tobacco  may  have  been  taken 
as  snuff  in  Mexico  and  other  parts  of  North  America,  there  can  be  no  doubt 
that  in  much  of  South  America  this  was  the  most  widespread  method  of 
utilizing  the  narcotic,  especially  in  the  wet,  tropical  lowland  areas,  such  as 
the  Amazon  Valley.  So  nfany  observations  attest  to  this  fact  that  there  would 
seem  to  be  little  if  any  need  for  a  discussion  of  the  custom,  were  it  not  that 
perhaps  confusion  as  to  the  source  of  a  number  of  snuff  preparations  may 
have  led  to  the  assumption  that  tobacco  snuffing,  though  widespread,  might 
have  been  even  more  widespread  than  it  actually  was.  Yet  botanists  and 
anthropologists  have  consistently  warned  against  such  generalisations.  Mason, 
for  example,  stated  {13)  that  "the  snuff  taken  throughout  .  .  .  most  of  the 
Amazon  and  West  Indies  ...  is  more  frequently  made  from  other  plants 
than  toibacco."  And  Cooper  owned  (^)  that  "tdbacco  snuffing  .  .  ."  is  "not 
always  distinguishable  in  our  sources  from  Piptadenia  snuffing." 

Garcilaso  de  la  Vega  {8)  reported  that  the  Inca  did  not  cultivate  tobacco 
or  sayri,  but  they  are  thought  to  have  utilised  several  varieties  native  to 
the  Andes,  the  roots  of  which  were  pulverised  and  used  medicinally  and  as 
a  snuff  {To) . 

Botanists  are  understandably  wont  to  be  somewhat  more  conservative 
in  ethnobotanical  generalisations  than  are  anthropologists.  Goodspeed,  for 


example,  in  his  classic  work  (9)  on  the  genus  Nicotiana,  wrote  that  "pre- 
sumably N.  tabacttm  was  in  pre-Columbian  use,  doubtless  often  in  cultiva- 
tion, in  the  West  Indies,  much  of  Mexico,  Central  America,  Colombia, 
Venezuela,  the  Guianas  and  Brazil.  Spinden  .  .  .  apparently  would  extend 
this  range  to  Peru,  Boliva,  Chile  and  Argentina,  since  tubes  'for  taking 
snuff,  presumably  of  tobacco,  occur  far  and  Avide*  in  those  areas  .... 
There  is,  however,  considerable  doubt  that  the  material  snuffed  in  the  tubes 
so  familiar  in  remains  of  certain  ancient  civilisations  in  the  Americas  was 
'tobacco'  obtained  either  from  early  races  of  N.  tabacum  or  from  progenitors 
of  the  species  of  Nicotiana  which  today  are  native  in  the  regions  concerned. 
In  other  words,  there  is  little  evidence  that  N.  Tabacum  was  in  pre-Colum- 
bian use  in  western  North  America  or  in  lower  South  America." 

Tobacco  in  snuffing — whether  the  source  of  the  snuff  be  Nicotiana  Tabacum 
or  some  other  species  of  the  genus — seems  quite  generally  to  have  been 
used  alone,  although  there  are  occasional  reports  that  it  is  sometimes  mixed 
with  Anadenanthera.  Amongst  the  tribes  of  the  Guapore  Eiver  in  Amazonian 
Brazil,  tobacco  snuff  was  mixed  with  "crushed  angico  leaves  [angico  refers 
to  leguminous  trees,  especially  to  Anadenantheral  and  ashes  of  a  certain 
bark"  (12).  During  my  years  of  field  work  amongst  the  Indians  of  the 
northwestern  Amazon,  I  witnessed  the  preparation  of  tobacco  snuff  on  many 
occasions  and  actually  employed  the  snuff  myself  instead  of  smoking.  The 
species  used  was  Nicotiana  Tabacum,  and  with  two  exceptions,  I  never  saw 
the  admixture  of  any  other  plant  to  the  snuff — ^that  is,  other  than  ashes. 
These  two  exceptions  were  with  the  Witotos  of  the  Rio  Igaraparana  and  the 
Yukunas  of  the  Rio  Miritiparana  of  Colombia,  where  powdered  coca  {Ery- 
throxylon  Coca)  is  added  to  the  tobacco.  It  is  my  belief  that  the  ashes  (usually 
from  bark  of  TJieobromxi  or  leaves  of  Cecropia)  serve  mainly  or  wholly  a 
physical  function  to  help  keep  the  finely  pulverised  and  sifted  tobacco 
particle  from  absorbing  humidity  from  the  excessively  wet  atmosphere  and 
lumping  so  that  the  material  could  not  be  used  as  a  snuff. 

South  America  boasts  a  wide  variety  of  containers  and  implements  for 
the  administration  and  self -administration  of  snuffs.  Since  there  is  normally, 
I  believe,  no  relationship  between  these  paraphernalia  and  the  botanical 
source  of  the  snuffs,  I  need  not  here  discuss  this  intricate  topic  which 
has  already  been  thoroughly  investigated  by  a  more  competent  specialist  {27) . 

A  critical  survey  of  tobacco  snuffing  in  South  America,  incorporating 
all  of  the  extensive  literature  interpreted  against  the  background  of  inten- 
sive field  observations,  is  overdue.  I  venture  to  predict  that,  as  such  a  study 
unravels  the  enigmas,  we  shall  see  other  narcotic  snuffs  assume  greater 
roles  and  tobacco  find  a  progresively  less  important  role  than  it  has  been 
given  in  our  ethnobotanical  evaluation. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  and  enigmatic  snuffs  of  South  America 
is  yopo  or  niopo,  prepared  from  the  beans  of  the  leguminous  tree  Anaden- 
anthera peregrina.  During  its  botanical  history,  this  plant  has  been  placed 
in  the  related  genera  Acacia  and  Mimosa.  It  is  perhaps  best  known  under 
the  binomial  Piptadenia  peregrina,  but  recent  studies  have  indicated  that 
it  is  most  appropriately  accommodated  within  Anadenanthera  (1 ) . 


Fig.  1. — Use  of  the  straight  bird-bone  snuffing-tube  for  administration  of  the  tobbaco- 
coca  snuff  of  the  Yukuna  Indians,  Rio  Miritiparand,  Amazonas,  Colombia.  Photograph 
by  R.  E.  Schultes. 

Of  possible  significance  is  the  curious  fact  that  Anadenanthera  peregrina 
is  or  has  been  employed  not  only  in  northern  South  America  but  probably 
in  the  Antilles  as  well.  Tobacco  snuffing  was  a  well  established  custom  in 
the  "West  Indian  islands  long  'before  the  arrival  of  Europeans,  and  the 
snuffing  in  Hispaniola  of  a  narcotic,  vision-producing  powder  called  cohoba 
was  no  cause  for  intellectual  curiosity,  since  most  early  writers  assumed  that 
cohoba  was  merely  another  tobacco  snuff.  It  was  the  American  enthno- 
botanist  Safford  who  first  identified,  quite  correctly,  I  believe,  the  West 
Indian  cohoba  snuff  with  the  yopo  of  the  Orinoco  basin  of  Venezuela  and 
Colombia  {16) . 

There  were  a  number  of  reports  in  the  literature  ascribing  the  sources 


of  Amazonian  snuffs  to  various  leguminous  trees,  and  its  was  Bentham  who 
"came  to  the  conclusion  that  all  South  American  trees  .  .  .  referred  to  as 
the  source  of  narcotic  snuff  were  probably  one  species  and  were  identical 
with  Linnaeus'  Mimosa  peregrina,  which  Avas  first  described  in  1737  from  a 
seedling  growing  in  the  celebrated  Clifford  Garden  in  Holland"  {16).  It 
seems  that  one  of  the  most  extraordinarily  mistaken  generalisations  in 
etlmobotany — that  all  of  the  narcotic  snuffs  of  the  Amazon  that  were  not 
obviously  tobacco  must  have  been  prepared  from  Anadenanthera  peregrina — 
has  stemmed  from  Benthem's  conclusions.  This  generalisation,  of  course, 
has  not  been  without  influence,  judging  from  the  state  of  confusion  and 
lack  of  clarity  encountered  in  many  of  the  earliest  reports  of  "smoking" 
and  "snuffing."  We  have  no  clear  distinction,  in  many  early  instances,  as 
to  whether  tobacco  or  cohoba  represented  the  plant  the  use  of  which  was 
being  described,  since  tobacco  was  snuffed  in  the  Caribbean  area  at  the 
time  of  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards. 

Fig.  2. — Tanimuka  Indian  administering  tobacco-coca  snuff  with  the  V-shaped  bird-bone 
snuffing  tube  employed  for  self -administration.  Rfo  Miritiparand,  Amazonas,  Colombia. 
Photograph  by  R.  E.  Schultes. 


Fig.  3.— Yukuna  Indian  pouring  out  into  the  hand  from  a  snail-shell  case  a  quantity  of 
tobacco-coca  snuff  for  insertion  into  the  bird-bone  snuffing  tube.  Rio  Miritiparana, 
Amazonas,  Colombia.  Photograph  by  R.  E.  Schultes. 

A  recently  published  map  {4),  sliowng  the  distribution  of  snuffs  made 
from  Anadenanthera^  includes  the  entire  Orinoco  basin  and  adjacent  areas 
of  southern  Venezuela  to  the  east;  westward  across  the  northern  Colombian 
Andes,  much  of  the  Magdalena  Valley ;  down  the  Andes  through  Columbia, 
Ecuador,  Peru  and  Bolivia;  the  coastal  region  of  Peru,  and  scattered  iso- 
lated areas  in  northern  Argentina,  and  the  central  and  western  Amazon 
Valley.  One  must  remember  that  this  map  refers  not  to  one  species  but  to 
a  genus — and  there  have  been  suggestions  that  species  other  than  Anaden- 
anthera  peregrina  have  entered  the  South  American  snuff  making  picture. 
Furthermore,  one  must  recall  that  Cooper  himself  cautioned  that  "our 
tribal  records  on  which  the  .  .  .  distribution  map  ...  is  based  are  prob- 
ably very  incomplete.  On  the  other  hand,  some  of  the  attributions  may  not 
be  correct,  since  in  some  cases  the  lack  of  exact  botanical  identification  makes 


it  doubtful  whether  we  have  to  do  with  Piptadenia  snuff,  tobacco  snuff  or 
snuff  from  some  other  plant  .  .  .  ." 

When  I  first  went  to  the  northwesternmost  Amazon  in  Colombia — a  region 
the  flora  of  which  I  investigated  in  the  field  from  1941  to  1953—1  fully  ex- 
pected to  meet  with  the  use  of  yopo  snuff.  One  of  my  reasons  for  choosing 
this  geographcal  area  for  my  studies  was  our  knowledge  that  here  the 
aborigines  were  reported  to  be  using  more  kinds  of  narcotic  preparations 
than  in  any  comparable  region  of  the  world.  Consultation  with  the  sparse 
literature  for  this  part  of  the  Amazon  basin  led  me  to  believe  that  yopo  snuff 
from  Anadenanthera  peregrina  was  known  and  employed  throughout  the 
area.  True,  amongst  the  Witotos,  Kubeos,  Yukunas,  Tanimukas,  Tukanos, 
Makunas  and  other  native  groups,  I  met  with  the  use,  oftentimes  excessive 
use,  of  tobacco  snuff.  I  never  met  with  anything  called  yopo  or  niopo,  and 
what  was  more  confusing  to  me  as  a  botanist  was  my  failure  to  encounter, 
wild  or  cultivated,  a  single  tree  of  Anadenanthera  peregrina.  This  species 
grows  cultivated  in  the  Llanos  of  Colombia — the  Orinoco  drainage  area  of 
Colombia,  northerly  adjacent  to  its  Amazon  area.  Furthermore,  from  the 
writings  of  Spruce  (^^)  and  other  earlier  travellers,  as  well  as  from  reports 
of  missionaries  of  the  present  day,  we  know  that  this  hallucinating  snuff  was 
and  is  employed  extensively  and  in  large  amounts  by  the  naitves  of  the  Llanos. 
My  later  explorations  and  researches  in  the  Colombian  Amazon  convinced  me 
that  generalisation  from  reports  in  the  available  literature  had  led  to  gross 
error;  that,  in  effect,  yopo  snuff  not  only  is  not  used  but  is  actually  unknown, 
and  that  the  tree  does  not  occur,  at  least  in  the  northwesternmost  Amazon. 
Furthermore,  since  I  was  resident  for  three  years  in  country  of  the  Tikuna 
Indians  of  the  uppermost  Amazon  Eiver  at  the  point  where  Brazil,  Colombia 
and  Peru  join,  I  was  especially  interested  in  the  assmnption  that  these  natives 
formerly  made  snuff  from  Anadenanthera  (3) .  Inasmuch  as  I  met  no  tree 
of  this  species  in  the  area  nor  did  I  see  the  Tikunas  (who  do  make  tobacco 
snuff)  prepare  snuff  from  leguminous  seeds,  I  must  conclude  that  this 
specific  instance  is  also  one  of  the  numerous  erroneous  generalisations. 

How  can  we  assume,  or  justify  an  assumption,  that  natives  over  such 
a  vast  area  as  the  Amazon  make  a  snuff  from  a  plant  that  they  do  not  know, 
that  does  not  grow  in  their  region,  wild  or  cultivated,  the  seeds  of  which  they 
would  have  to  import  for  many,  in  some  cases,  for  several  thousand  miles  ? 

Let  us  contemplate  what  is  known  of  the  distribution  of  Anadenanthera 
peregrina.  Safford,  who  apparently  concurred  with  the  ideas  that  such  widely 
scattered  Amazonian  peoples  as  the  Omaguas  of  Amazonian  Peru  and  the 
Murus  of  the  Rio  Negro  of  Brazil  prepared  snuff  from  this  leguminous  tree, 
truthfully  wrote  that  Anadenanthera  peregrina  "has  a  most  appropriate 
specific  name,  for  it  has  a  wide  geographical  range."  He  further  pointed  out 
that  its  range  had  "undoubtedly  been  increased  by  human  agency."  But,  when 
Safford  cites  for  Anadenanthera  peregrina  a  range  comprising  Hispaniola 
and  Puerto  Rico,  Venezuela,  northeastern  Peru,  southern  Peru,  Argentina, 
Guiana  and  "many  parts"  of  Brazil,  he  was  including  with  Anadenanthera 
peregrina  two  other  species  of  the  genus  which  he  presumed  to  be  employed 
as  the  source  of  making  snuff.  He  cites  no  herbarium  voucher  specimens, 


262-016  0-67—  21 

Fig.  4. — Anadenanthera  peregrina  (Piptadenia  peregrina) . 

instead  giving  references  to  the  use  of  snuffs  in  the  literature  and  assuming 
that  they  did  refer  actually  to  snuffs  from  Anadenanthera. 

Fortunately,  we  have  several  botanical  studies  of  monographic  nature 
that  shed  light  on  the  distribution  of  Anadenanthera  peregrina.  It  is  these 
data,  not  "interpreted"  literature  reports,  that  must  guide  any  definitive 
generalisations.  Ducke,  renowned  Brazilian  botanist  who  spent  more  than 
half  a  century  studying  the  Amazon  flora  in  field  and  laboratory,  specialised 
in  the  Leguminosae.  In  his  "Leguminosas  da  Amazonia",  he  (5)  cites  all 
known  collections  of  Anadenanthera  peregrma  (under  Piptadenia  pere- 
grina) .  If  the  species  had  been  much  commoner  in  the  Amazon,  Ducke  would 
have  made  more  collections  than  those  that  he  cited.  More  recently,  Altschul, 
in  her  studies  of  the  genus  of  the  yopo  snuff  (i,  £6) ,  has  treated  Anadenan- 
thera monographically,  citing  only  collections,  wild  or  cultivated,  from  South 
America.  Thus,  we  know  that,  at  least  in  the  present  century,  Anadenanthera 
peregrina  is  far  from  common  in  the  Amazon  basin. 

It  is,  therefore,  somewhat  exaggerated  to  expect  us  to  conclude  that  many 
tribes  are  preparing  an  important  hallucinogenic  snuff,  and  a  product  often 
taken  in  excessive  amounts,  from  a  tree  that  is  uncommon  or  even  not  found 
in  their  environment.  Trees  of  this  species  are  reported  in  Venezuela  as  "being 
forest  dominants,  belonging  to  secondary  forests,  inhibiting  savannas,  light 
forests  and  riversides,"  in  British  Guiana  confined  to  "savannas  and  riverside 
forests,"  while  in  Brazil  represented  mostly  in  the  campos  or  savamias  {1,6). 
The  distribution  of  Anadenanthera  peregrina  in  the  Amazonas  of  Brazil  is, 
significantly,  confined  to  savanna-like  areas,  usually  in  or  near  the  lower  Eio 
Madeira  and  the  Rio  Branco  basins — significantly,  I  say,  because  the  Maue 
and  other  tribes  of  the  Madeira  area  have,  probably  correctly,  been  reported 
as  using  snuff  from  Anadenanthera.  I  have  seen  excellent  specimens  of  Ana- 
denoMhera  peregrina  recently  collected  by  Mr.  Georg  Seitz  along  the  Rio 
Negro,  in  the  vicinity  of  the  mouth  of  the  Rio  Branco,  in  Amazonian  Brazil ; 
these  were  undoubtedly  cultivated  from  material  brought  in  from  the  sa- 
vannas of  the  Rio  Branco. 

Now,  let  us  contemplate  the  problems  that  arise.  If  Anadenanthera  pere- 
grine is  not  the  source  of  a  snuff  employed  over  wide  areas  in  the  Amazon, 
what  are  the  sources  of  the  numerous  snuff  preparations  that  we  know  are 
or  have  been  prepared  in  isolated  localities  from  the  mountains  of  Venezuela 
and  the  Guianas  south  to  the  Argentine  and  from  the  eastern  slopes  of  the 
Andes  to  the  Atlantic  Ocean?  We  cannot  fully  answer  this  query  at  the 
present  time,  but  we  can  offer  several  tentative  approaches  towards  a  solution. 

To  begin  with,  it  is  very  probable  that  several,  if  not  many,  different  plants 
formed  the  basis  for  the  snuffs  employed  similarly  and  for  similar  purposes 
over  such  a  vast  area.  We  know  very  definitely  that  this  is  true.  We  do  not, 
to  be  sure,  know  all  of  the  plants  involved  in  this  complicated  enigma,  but 
we  know  enough  to  arrive  at  an  overall  picture  to  guide  future  research. 

It  was  apparently  Safford  {16)  who  first  suggested  that  species  of  Anaden- 
anthera other  than  peregrina  may  be  the  source  of  narcotic  snuffs  in  South 
America.  He  identified  the  vilca  or  huUca  of  southern  Peru  and  Bolivia,  and 


tlie  cebil  of  northern  Argentina,  with  seeds  of  what  he  called  PipUidenia 
macrocarpa,  now  correctly  referred  to  as  Anadenanthera  colubrina  var. 
Cebil.  Although  the  evidence  is,  in  my  opinion,  rather  weak,  several  other 
species  and  varieties  may  have  been  employed  in  isolated  localities  in  south- 
em  South  America.  Inasmuch,  however,  as  a  paper  in  the  series  is  devoted 
precisely  to  the  problem  at  hand,  I  shall  refrain  from  considering  it  at 
greater  length. 

When  I  first  went  to  the  northwesternmost  Amazon  in  Colombia,  I  heard 
numerous  reports  of  a  strongly  hallucinogenic  snuff  made  from  the  bark  of 
forest  trees.  Known  in  the  area  as  yakee  or  paricd^  it  was  obviously  not 
tobacco  snuff  nor  was  it  prepared  from  seeds  of  Anadenanthera. 

After  eight  years  of  search,  I  discovered  that  yakee  was  prepared  from 
several  species  of  Virola,  V.  calophylla,  V.  calophylloidea  and,  perhaps,  V. 
elongata  of  the  Myristicaceae  (17, 18) .  The  natives  strip  bark  from  the  trunks 
before  the  sun  has  risen  high  enough  to  heat  up  the  forest.  A  blood-red  resin 
oozes  from  the  inner  surface  of  the  bark.  It  is  scraped  off  with  a  machete  or 
knife  and  boiled  in  an  earthen  pot  for  hours,  until  a  thick  paste  is  left.  This 
paste  is  allowed  to  dry  and  is  then  pulverized,  sifted  through  a  fine  cloth, 
and  finally  added  to  an  equal  amount  of  ashes  of  the  stems  of  a  wild  cacao 
species.  The  ashes  give  the  snuff  consistency  to  withstand  the  excessive  damp- 
ness of  the  air  which  might  otherwise  quickly  "melt"  the  powdered  resin- 
paste  to  a  solid  lump. 

Fig.  5. — Leaves  and  flowers  of  Virola  calophijlloidea,  one  of  the  species  of  Virola  from 
which  a  strongly  hallucinogenic  snufT  is  prepared.  Mitu,  Vaup6s,  Colombia.  Photograph 
by  R.  E.  Schultes. 


Fig.  6. — Puinave  Indian  preparing  yakee-snuff  from  the  red  resinous  exudate  from  the 
bark  of  Virola-trees.  Rio  Apaporis,  Vaupes,  Colombia.  Photograph  by  R.  E.  Schultes. 

At  the  beginning  of  this  century,  the  German  ethnologist  Koch-Griinberg 
mentioned  (11)  an  intoxicating  snuff  prepared  from  the  bark  of  an  unidenti- 
fied tree  by  the  Yekwana  Indians  of  the  headwaters  of  the  Orinoco  in  Vene- 
zuela. There  seems  to  be  every  reason  to  believe  that  this  snuff  was  made  from 
a  species  of  Virola.  Seitz  {23)  has  identified  the  epend  snuff  of  the  Waika 
Indians  (who  now  live  in  the  Rio  Negro  basin  of  Brazil,  but  who  have  mi- 
grated from  the  headwaters  of  the  Orinoco)  as  representing  Virola  calo- 

At  one  time,  I  presumed  that  the  active  principle  in  this  myristicaceous 
snuff  must  be  the  same  essential  oil — myristicine — that  is  common  through- 
out the  family  and  that  has  been  thought  to  make  nutmeg  a  dangerous  nar- 
cotic in  appropriate  amounts.  Myristicine  may  have  some  effect,  but  Holm- 
stedt  has  recently  isolated  tryptamine  derivatives  from  Virola, — snuff  which 
itself  could  account  for  the  hallucinogenic  properties  of  the  powder  {10). 


It  may  be  interesting  to  append  a  few  observations  which  I  made  person- 
ally after  taking  yakee  {17) .  I  took  about  one-third  of  a  teaspoonful  in  two 
inhalations,  using  the  characteristic  V-shaped  bird-bone  snuflSng  tube.  This 
represents  about  one-quarter  the  dose  that  a  diagnosing  medicine  man  will 
take  to  bring  on  an  eventual  state  of  unconsciousness. 

The  dose  was  snuffed  at  five  o'clock  one  afternoon.  Within  fifteen  minutes, 
a  drawing  sensation  was  felt  over  the  eyes,  followed  very  shortly  by  a  strong 
tingling  in  fingers  and  toes.  The  drawing  sensation  in  the  forehead  gave  way 
to  a  strong  and  constant  headache.  Within  a  half  hour,  the  feet  and  hands 
were  numb  and  sensitivity  of  the  fingertips  had  disappeared ;  walking  was 
possible  with  difficulty,  as  with  beri-beri.  I  felt  nauseated  until  eight  o'clock, 
and  experienced  lassitude  and  uneasiness.  Shortly  after  eight,  I  lay  down 
in  my  hammock,  overcome  with  a  drowsiness,  which,  however,  seemed  to  be 
accompanied  by  a  muscular  excitation  except  in  the  hands  and  feet.  At  about 
nine-thirty,  I  fell  into  a  fitful  sleep  which  continued,  with  frequent  awaken- 
ings, until  morning.  The  strong  headache  lasted  until  noon.  A  profuse  sweat- 
ing and  what  was  probably  a  slight  fever  persisted  throughout  the  night. 
The  pupils  were  strongly  dilated  during  the  first  few  hours  of  the  intoxica- 

Though  performed  under  primitive  conditions  in  the  jungle  by  myself, 
this  experiment  does,  I  think,  indicate  the  great  strength  of  the  snuff  as  a 
psychotropic  agent.  The  witch  doctors  see  visions  in  color,  but  I  was  able  to 
experience  neither  visual  hallucinations  nor  color  sensations.  The  large  dose 
used  by  the  witch  doctor  is  enough  to  put  him  into  a  deep  but  disturbed 
sleep,  during  which  he  sees  visions  and  has  dreams  which,  through  the  wild 
shouts  emitted  in  liis  delirium,  are  interpreted  by  an  assistant.  That  it  is  a 
dangerous  practice  is  acknowledged  by  the  witch  doctors  themselves.  They 
report  the  death,  about  15  years  ago,  of  one  of  their  number  from  the  Puinave 
tribe  during  a  yakee-intoxication. 

Sources  of  Snuffs  of  Lesser  Importance 

We  are  aware  from  the  literature  of  references  to  narcotic  snuffs  in  South 
America  the  botanical  identities  of  which  are  still  uncertain  or  unknown. 

A  most  mysterious  snuff  of  which  we  still  know  almost  nothing  is  said  to  be 
prepared  from  the  fruits  of  the  gigantic  moraceous  jungle  tree  Olmedi- 
operebea  sclerophylla  [19).  It  is  reputedly  employed  in  the  central  part  of 
Brazil,  especially  along  the  upper  Xingu,  but  is  known  only  by  the  general 
Portuguese  term  rape  dos  indios  ("Indian  snuff") .  So  far  as  I  have  been  able 
to  ascertain,  chemical  examination  of  the  fruits  of  this  tree  has  not  yielded 
substance  with  psychotomimetic  effects. 

It  would  be  satisfying  to  know  the  plant  source  of  the  clear  amber-coloured 
and  aromatic  resin  that  is  procured  from  a  large  forest  tree,  and  that  forms 
part  of  the  sacred  accoutrements  of  every  medicine  man  of  the  Tukanoan 
tribes  in  the  Apaporis  and  Vaupes  Rivers  of  Amazonian  Colombia  (17,  22). 


In  particularly  difficult  cases  of  diagnosis  of  disease,  divination  or  other 
magic  practice,  minute  amounts  of  this  resin,  powdered,  are  snuffed.  Al- 
though it  is  said  to  induce  dizziness,  it  is  not  reputed  to  have  hallucinogenic 
properties.  Nevertheless,  botanical  identification  and  chemical  study  of  this 
resin-snuff  should  be  made,  if  only  because  of  the  intriguing  fact  that  it  is 
quite  generally  referred  to  as  paricd,  the  same  name  that  is  applied  to  the 
highly  hallucinogenic  snuff  prepared  from  the  blood-red  resin  of  the  inner 
bark  of  several  species  of  the  myristicaceous  tree-genus  Virola,  by  the  same 
people  in  the  same  part  of  the  Amazon. 

A  number  of  years  ago,  a  missionary  working  in  the  headwaters  of  the 
Orinoco  in  Venezuela  handed  me  a  partially  rotted,  matted  roll  of  plant 
material  which  he  said  was  the  source  of  one  of  the  narcotic  snuffs  of  the 
Waika  Indians.  The  condition  of  the  material  was  very  poor,  but  it  seemed 
to  represent  a  species  of  J^isticia.  This  identification  was  tentatively  corrobo- 
rated by  Dr.  E.  C.  Leonard,  the  American  specialist  on  the  Acanthaceae. 
I  have  never  been  able  to  visit  this  region  to  investigate  the  problem  per- 
sonally. With  the  unsatisfactory  preservation  of  the  material  and  the  failure 
of  other  botanists  who  had  visited  the  general  region  to  report  it  {31),  I 
more  or  less  dismissed -«/'W,?^2(?/a  as  a  serious  contender  for  inclusion  in  our 
list  of  hallucinogens.  I  am  now,  however,  convinced  that  this  problem  must 
be  investigated  thoroughly  in  the  field,  for  recently,  the  Brazilian  botanist. 
Prof.  J oao  MurQa  Pires,  informed  me  personally  that  the  Waikas  do  indeed 
employ  a  species  of  Justicia,  a  species  close  apparently  to  /.  pectoralis,  in  the 
preparation  of  a  vision-producing  snuff.  We  know  that  alkaloids  have  been 
reported  from  several  species  of  Justica,  and  there  has  been  some  question 
of  synonymy  of  Jvstica  with  Adhatoda,  which  is  known  to  contain  harman- 
type  alkaloids.  Several  other  genera  of  the  Acanthaceae  have  been  reported  as 
alkaloidal,  and  this  family  might  well  bear  an  intensive  phytochemical  study. 
In  this  connexion,  I  might  report  here  that  one  of  the  minor  fish  poisons 
that  I  found  in  use  amongst  the  Taiwanos  of  the  Eio  Kananari  of  Colombian 
Vaupes  is  the  root  of  an  acanthaceous  shrub,  the  genus  of  which  is  as  yet 
phytochemically  wholly  unknown :  Mendoncia  aspera  {22) . 

There  is,  apparently,  a  fertile  field  for  the  study  of  narcotic  snuff  prepara- 
tions in  the  general  area  of  the  headwaters  of  the  Orinoco.  In  fact,  this  part 
of  South  America  would  seem  perhaps  to  represent  the  centre  of  com- 
plexity of  this  curious  culture  trait. 

The  Waikas  of.  the  upper  Orinoco  basin  have  been  reported  to  prepare 
their  yopo  snuff  from  three  plants  {27).  One  source  enumerates  hisioma, 
Anadenanthera  peregHna,  as  one  ingredient;  a  second  is  called  masho-hara 
or  yauardi-Jierm,  and  is  said  to  be  a  piperaceous  species ;  a  third  is  a  powder 
known  as  l)olek-hena.  It  is  a  temptation  to  wonder  whether  or  not  this  bolek- 
hena  or  "leaves  of  the  spirit  of  death"  might  be  a  Jmticia.  Other  sources 
23,  27,  32)  assert  that  the  snuff  of  the  Waikas  and  of  a  related  tribe,  the 
Samatari,  Avas  prepared  from  the  bast  of  a  tree  called  epena-hesi  (referrible 
probably  to  Virola)  ;  the  ashes  of  the  outer  bark  of  ama-asita,  which  has 
been  identified  in  the  literature  as  an  Acacia;  and  the  powder  of  masM-Mri, 
a  plant  of  about  one  foot  in  height  which  might  conceivably  also  represent 


Justicia.  The  Surara  and  Pakidai  make  their  snuff  {30)  from  seeds  of 
Anadenanthem  peregrina,  ashes  of  hehurahihend,  the  bark  of  a  tree  of  un- 
certain identity  but  possibly  representing  also  this  same  species,  a  piperaceous 
species,  maxarahd.  The  Karime,  culturally  related  to  and  neighbours  of  the 
Waikas,  eleborate  a  snuff  powder  {30)  from  leaves  of  "a  small  plant  called 
TiohoimeP  Again,  are  we  warranted  in  suspecting  that  kokoime  might  be 

The  Kashuena  of  the  Rio  Trombetas  in  Amazonian  Brazil,  are  reported 
by  one  source  to  have  several  kinds  of  snuff  in  addition  to  that  made  "simply 
of  tobacco"  (7) .  One  is  prepared  by  "blending  the  dried  and  powdered  bark 
of  a  tree  and  a  quantity  of  parica  with  other  substances  taken  from  kernels 
or  seeds  of  a  variety  of  wild  fruits."  A  third  comprises  a  mixture  of  these 
two  kinds  of  snuff.  We  are  left  in  the  dark  about  the  species  of  tree  from 
which  the  bark  is  taken,  although  it  may  possibly  be  referrible  to  an  Anade- 
nanthera,  and  the  "wild  fruits"  remain  imidentified.  Could  one  be  the  fruits 
of  Olmedioperebea  sclerophylla? 

Final  Query 

The  several  attempts  to  synthesise  and  summarise  our  knowledge  of  the 
precise  botanical  identification  of  plants  entering  into  the  preparation  of 
South  American  snuffs  {26,  28)  have  met  with  the  same  difficulties  that  I 
find  in  trying  to  discuss  this  topic  here.  Because  of  similarities  in  the  tools 
and  methods  of  snuffing,  and  especially  as  a  result  of  the  lack  of  voucher 
botanical  specimens,  we  are  too  often  reduced  to  conjecture  as  to  the  plants 
involved.  In  view  of  the  importance  of  snuffing  in  many  cultures — past  and 
present — and  of  the  possibility  that  a  number  of  plants  hitherto  unknown 
as  ingredients  of  narcotic  snuffs  might  be  uncovered,  further  field  investiga- 
tion of  snuffs  in  South  America  is  clearly  indicated. 

In  connexion  with  the  possibility  of  finding  new  plants  as  sources  of  nar- 
cotic snuffs,  there  is  one  point  that  has  disturbed  me  for  a  long  time.  Why 
should  only  several  of  the  narcotic  plants  be  administered  as  snuff  ?  Snuffing 
is  a  widespread  New  World  culture  trait.  It  is  a  relatively  easy  method  of 
self-intoxication.  It  lends  itself  easily  to  ritual  or  ceremonial  use.  Snuffs 
usually  tend  to  keep  over  longer  periods,  especially  in  the  humid  tropics,  than 
infusions  or  decoctions.  Why  then  are  not  more  narcotics  taken  in  this  form  ? 
One  limiting  factor,  to  be  sure,  would  be  the  requirements  that  the  activite 
principle  must  be  absorbable  through  the  membranes  to  enter  directly  into 
the  blood  stream  and  be  active.  Nicotine,  of  course,  answers  these  reqirements. 
Obviously,  the  active  principles  of  the  snuffs  from  Anadenanthera  peregrina 
and  Virola  also  satisfy  these  requirements.  But  would  not  the  active  constitu- 
ents of  other  narcotics  likewise  follow  this  pattern  ?  Why,  for  example,  have 
we  never  found  the  sundry  species  of  Datura  powdered  and  employed  as 
snuffs  ? 

Would  snuffs  prepared  from  the  bark  of  Banisteriopsis  provide  the  de- 
sired psychotropic  effects?  And  what  about  the  narcotic  properties  of  Ei^y- 


throxylon  Coca — would  they  be  lost  if  the  powdered  leaves  were  introduced 
into  the  nostrils  as  a  snuff  ?  The  rich  variety  of  toxic  plants  in  the  flora  of 
South  America — would  not  many  of  these  species  have  psychotomimetic  ef- 
fects which  would  be  more  controllable  or  perhaps  less  dangerous  as  snuffs 
then  decoctions  or  infusions  of  the  same  plants?  All  of  this  leads  to  two  ques- 
tions that  I  would  leave  with  you :  Was  not  the  snuffing  of  narcotic  powders 
much  more  widely  practiced  in  South  America  than  it  is  at  present?  Was  and 
is  not  the  number  and  variety  of  plants  snuffed  for  their  peculiar  physiologi- 
cal properties  greater  than  we  at  present  believe  ?  The  answer  to  both  ques- 
tions, I  suspect,  is  "Yes."  But  only  more  intensive  and  extensive  search  and 
interpretation  of  the  literature,  and  more  immediate  and  insistent  ethno- 
botanical  field  studies  can  provide  us  with  answers. 


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Joum.  Wash.  Acad.  Sci.  6  (1916) ,  548. 
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Bot.  Mus.  Leafl.,  Harvard  Univ.  16  (1954) ,  241. 
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Trop.  Bot.  Appl.  1  (1954) ,  298. 


{19)  ScHULTES,  RiCHAED  EvANs.  "Native  narcotics  of  the  New  World."  Texas  Journ. 

Phann.2  (1961)',  141. 

{20)   .  "Hallucinogenic  plants  of  the  New  World."  Harvard  Rev.  1  (1963),  18. 

(21)   .  "Ein  halbes  Jahrhundert  Ethnobotanik  amerikanischer  Halluzinogene." 

Planta  Medica  13  (1965) ,  124. 
{22)   .  "The  search  for  new  natural  hullucinogens."  Lloydia  29  (1966),  293. 

{23)  Seitz,  Geoeg.  "Einige  Bemerkungen  zur  Anwendung  and  Wirkungsweise  des 
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(2^)  Spktjce,  Richabd  (Ed.  A.  R.  Wallace).  "Notes  of  a  botanist  on  the  Amazon  and 

Andes."  2  (1908) ,  426.  Macmlllan  &  Co.,  Ltd.,  London. 
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study."  Ph.  D.  Thesis  (ined.)  (1961),  Radcliffe  College,  Cambridge,  Mass. 
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(27)   .  "The  use  of  some  specific  kinds  of  South  American  Indian  snuff  and  related 

paraphernalia."  Ethnolog.  Stud.  28  (1965). 

(28)   .  "Sydamerikanska  snusdroger."  Nytt  och  Nyttigt,  No.  1  (1966),  1. 

(29)   and  Bo  Holmstedt.  "The  use  of  parica,  an  ethnological  and  pharmacological 

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Fundaci6n  La  Salle  de  Ciencias  Naturales,  Caracas  (1963) . 
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662.  Frankfurt-am-Main. 


Vilca  and  its  Use 

SiRi  VON  Reis  Altschul 

Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard  University,  Cambridge,  Mass. 

It  generally  has  been  assumed  that  the  Peruvian  substance  known  as 
Vilca  is,  or  was,  a  snuff  made  from  a  Piptadenia  in  the  family  Leffuminosae 
(Safford,  1916;  and  later  authors).  However,  there  is  evidence  in  the  litera- 
ture and  in  unpublished  materials  that  Vilca  may  involve  other  plants  as 
well,  and  that  it  may  have  been  used  in  forms  different  from  snuff.  I  would 
like  to  examine  this  evidence  with  a  view  to  opening  new  areas  in  the  search 
for  psycho-active  drugs. 

The  discussion  which  follows  is  based  in  part  on  research  in  the  ethno- 
botany  of  the  strictly  New  World  genus  Anadenanthera,  which  formerly 
was  considered  as  section  Niopa  of  the  genus  Piptadenia  and  is  known  com- 
monly as  the  source  of  some  hallucinogenic  snuffs.  The  genus  Anadenan- 
thera  contains  two  very  similar  species  which  have  not  been  shown  to  differ 
significantly  with  respect  to  their  psycho- activity,  and  which  may  have  been 
used  interchangeably.  One  species  is  Anadenanthera  colubHna.,  found  in 
southern  Peru,  Bolivia,  northern  Argentina,  Paraguay  and  southern  Brazil. 
The  other  species  is  A.  peregrina,  ranging  from  southeastern  Brazil  to  the 
Greater  Antilles,  (von  Reis,  1961 ;  von  Reis  Altschul,  1964) . 

The  discussion  also  will  make  use  of  information  which  recently  has  be- 
come available.  This  information  has  been  selected  from  nearly  6,000  field 
notes  from  a  search  of  almost  2,500,000  herbarium  specimens  at  Harvard 
University  (von  Reis,  1962).  Dr.  Richard  Evans  Schultes  and  I  have  just 
completed  this  project  and  intend  to  publish  our  data  as  soon  as  it  is  feasible.^ 

Let  us  look  first  at  the  earliest  references  to  Vilca,  which  are  to  be  found  not 
in  the  herbarium  but  in  the  post-conquest  literature  of  Peru.  Around  1571, 
Polo  de  Ondegardo  reported  that  the  witch  doctors  of  the  Incas '  foretold 
the  future  by  speaking  with  the  devil  in  some  dark  place  by  means  of  various 
ceremonies,  for  which  office  they  intoxicated  themselves  with  an  herb  called 
Villca,  pouring  its  juice  into  chicha  or  taking  it  another  way.  The  reporter 
stated  that,  although  only  old  women  were  reputed  to  practice  this  craft,  in 
fact  its  use  was  widespread  but  concealed  among  men  and  boys,  as  well.  In 
1695,  Santa  Cruz  Pachacuti  spoke  of  a  medicine  called  villca  which  was  the 
seed  of  a  tree.  Two  years  later,  Gonzalez  Holguin  said  that  Villca  referred  to 
a  tree  with  a  purgative  fruit.  An  early  report  by  Falcon  (1946  ed. ;  in  Yacov- 
leff  &  Herrera,  1935)  indicated  that  the  Indians  took  a  purge  called  Vilcas 

^This  project  was  carried  out  through  the  sponsorship  of  The  Botanical  Museum  of  Harvard 
University.  It  was  supported  by  Smith,  Kline  &  French  Laboratories ;  the  National  Institute  of 
Mental  Health  ;  and  the  Lilly  Research  Laboratories.  We  are  very  grateful  to  the  staffs  of  the  Gray 
Herbarium  and  Arnold  Arboretum  of  Harvard  University,  especially  to  Professors  Reed  C.  Rollins 
and  Richard  A.  Howard,  respective  directors,  for  generous  permission  to  use  their  facilities  and 
herbarium  materials. 

^Murdock's  Outline  of  South  American  Cultures  (1951)  has  been  used  for  classifying  all  the 
Indian  cultures  dealt  with  in  this  paper. 


(or  elilcas)  which  was  beneficial  to  those  who  worked  too  hard.  In  1629, 
Vasquez  de  Espinosa  said  that  the  pods  of  the  vilca  tree  had  small,  round 
seeds  which  were  the  common  purge  of  the  Indians  for  all  sorts  of  humors. 
Some  years  later,  in  1653,  Bemabe  Cobo  stated  that  the  Indians  used  a  de- 
coction of  the  roots  of  a  Polypodium.  fern  with  two  or  three  Yilca.  seeds  to 
remove  phlegm  and  choler  without  pain  or  nausea.  He  gave  a  fair,  but  not 
diagnostically  adequate,  description  of  the  tree  called  Vilca,  and  maintained 
that  the  Indians  cured  a  variety  of  illnesses  with  the  purgative  seeds  taken 
in  cMcha.  These  seeds  were  said  to  be  both  laxative  and  emetic  and  to  dis- 
pel melancholy.  Cooked  and  drunk  in  honey,  they  cleared  the  chest,  stimu- 
lated urination  and  made  women  fruitful. 

Modern  writers  usually  identify  the  name  Vilca  with  the  species  here 
called  Anadenanthera  colvhrina  (Herrera,  1934;  Lastres,  1951).  In  1916, 
Safford  stated  that  seeds  labelled  Huillca  and  secured  from  an  Indian  drug 
vender  in  southern  Peru  had  been  identified  as  belonging  to  Anadenanthera. 
Herrera  reported  in  1940  that  the  seeds  of  Huillca  [Herrera  3210)  are  a 
narcotic-cathartic  element  in  the  indigenous  pharmacopoeia.  Yacovleff  & 
Herrera  (1935)  have  said  that  the  seeds  are  sold  as  purgatives  in  the  local 
markets.  Recently,  Vargas  confirmed  in  a  letter  (1966)  from  Cuzco  that  herb 
doctors  in  that  vicinity  continue  to  use  the  seeds  for  this  purpose.  Cardenas 
has  stated  from  Bolivia  that  the  same  species,  known  as  Willca,  is  used  as  a 
stimulant  and  aphrodisiac  by  the  callahuayos  (1943),  or  itiaerant  medicine 
men  who  travel  today  between  Chile  and  Mexico  (H.  C.  Cutler  in  conversa- 
tion, 1966) .  The  seeds  also  have  been  used  in  our  time  as  charms  or  fetishes 
by  the  Quechua  Indians  of  northwest  Bolivia.  At  the  market  in  La  Paz  one 
may  buy,  among  other  goods  for  similar  purposes,  seeds  of  A.  colubrina  and 
of  other  leguminous  species  in  the  genus  Ormosia.  These  seeds  and  other 
items  are  buried,  for  magical  purposes,  under  houses  in  the  process  of  con- 
struction (Nordenskiold,  1907;  Pardal,  1937). 

In  the  course  of  the  herbarium  search  mentioned  above,  we  found  two 
specimens  labelled  Vilca.  Both  belonged  to  Anadenanthera  colubrina.  One 
was  from  southern  Peru  (Departamento  de  Huancaveiica,  Weherbav^r  6605) . 
The  other  was  from  east  of  La  Paz,  Bolivia  (Canamina,  White  25 Ji).  These 
data  indicate  that  A.  colubrina  indeed  is  identifiable  with  Vilca,  but  they  do 
not  insure  that  Vilca  is  referable  exclusively  to  this  plant. 

For  one  thing,  it  is  especially  difficult  to  establish  botanical  identifications 
in  the  early  literature.  Apparent  inconsistencies  or  omissions  in  plant  descrip- 
tions, and  the  lack  of  voucher  specimens  require  that  we  habitually  entertain 
the  possibility  of  altogether  new  interpretations,  particularly  among  groups 
like  the  legiunes,  where  many  similar  species  may  be  mistaken  one  for  another. 
In  fact,  the  widespread  representation  of  the  Leguminosae  in  native  medi- 
cine suggests  that  a  pharmacological  screening  of  its  New  World  genera  for 
psycho-active  compounds  might  be  a  worthwhile  undertaking. 

In  conjunction  with  our  herbarium  search  at  Harvard,  we  found  three 
species  with  common  names  similar  to  Vilca  but  from  families  other  than  the 
legumes.  These  were  a  Peruvian  specimen  of  Banisteria  leiocarpa  {Mal- 
pighiaceae,  Vargas  WW)  labelled  Vilca  bejuco,  or  climbing  Vilca;  a  Vene- 


zuelan  specimen  of  Virola  sebifera  (Myristicaceae,  Steyermark  60758a) 
labelled  toircaweijek,  whose  inner  bark  is  said  to  be  dried  and  smoked  by  witcli 
doctors  to  cure  fevers;  and  a  Peruvian  specimen  of  Baccharis  floribunda 
{Ovmpositae,  West  3735)  labelled  UllccocMlca,  a  species  also  reputedly  cura- 
tive {Macbride  &  Featherstone  1631 ) 

In  addition  to  these  interesting  attributions,  our  herbarium  search  re- 
vealed information  which  does  not  relate  directly  to  Vilca  but  which  I  will 
present  here  because  it  very  much  bears  upon  the  search  for  psychoactive 
drugs.  This  information  consists  of  common  names  of  Anadenanthera  species 
which  have  come  to  light  in  connection  with  new  plants.  The  accompanying 
map  (Fig.  1)  shows  the  distribution  of  the  conunon  names  of  Anadenanthera 
species  in  South  America,  based  upon  labels  of  specimens  examined.  With 
these  names  and  their  locations  in  mind,  I  would  suggest  that  the  following 
species  be  examined  chemically  for  possible  pharmacological  activity :  in  the 
Asclepiadaceae^  Asdepias  curupi  (Balansa  1361)  from  Paraguay,  labelled 
Curwpi,  the  powdered  leaves  and  a  decoction  of  the  plant  said  to  be  applied  to 
snake  bite;  in  the  Euphorhiaceae,  three  species  of  Sapium  from  Uruguay, 
labelled  Curupi  (S.  gibertii,  Lomhardo  301/3 ;  S.  haematospermum,  Lombardo 
30Jf,7 ;  S.  linearifolium,  Lombardo  33Ji.Ii.)  ;  in  the  Rubiaceae^  Guettarda  vibur- 
noides  from  Brazil,  labelled  Angico  {Mexia  5583) ;  and  in  the  Leguminosae 
from  Brazil  an  undetermined  Pithecellobium  {Krukoff  1887),  Piptadenia 
contorta  {Mexia  ^28),  both  labelled  Angico  Branco;  and  Mimosa  malaco- 
centra  {Mexia  56£4-)  labelled  Angiguin,  whose  leaves  are  used  to  make  a  tea 
for  pain. 

Further  afield  from  Anadenanthera  but  pertinent  to  the  objectives  of  the 
conference  are  a  few  surprising  new  combinations :  in  the  C onvolvulaceae : 
two  species  of  Ipomoea  {I.  denticulata,  I.  tiliacea,  W.  H.  &  B.  T.  Hodge 
3323,  3318,  respectively)  from  the  island  of  Dominica,  West  Indies,  labelled 
Gaapi;  in  the  Leguminosae,  Calliandra  calothyrsis  {Standley  238^6)  and 
Leucaena  guatemalensis  {Standley  7 3562) ,  both  from  Guatemala  and  labelled 
Yaje;  in  the  Compositae,  Trichocline  incana  {Meyer  3982)  from  Argentina, 
labelled  Coro  and  said  to  be  smoked  with  tobacco.  The  word  Coro  has  ap- 
peared now  and  then  in  the  early  chronicles  and  has  been  linked  previously 
with  Anadenanthera  and  (the  root  of)  wild  tobacco  (Cobo,  1890-93  ed. ; 
Uhle,  1898)  but  never,  to  my  knowledge,  with  this  plant :  According  to  Cobo, 
Coro  powder  was  drunk  in  water  for  detention  of  urine,  or  taken  as  snuff 
for  headache  and  to  clear  the  vision. 

I  would  like  to  return  now  to  Vilca  and  to  review  some  of  the  botanical 
common  names  similar  to  it  in  the  published  literature.  The  species  ascribed 
to  these  names  perhaps  should  receive  critical  attention,  too.  Vilcardn  has 
been  associated  with  Piptadenia  rigida  (Burkart,  1949)  in  Argentina.  Vil- 
caparu  is  a  word  for  yellow  maize  (Gonzalez  Holguin,  1607)  from  Bolivia 
(A.  Grobman  in  conversation,  1961) .  HuiUTco  means  species  of  Ipomoea  and 

'  Any  pharmacological  research  on  these  and  other  species  cited  in  this  paper  should  be  preceded 
by  a  verification,  by  a  competent  botanist,  of  the  correct  identification  of  the  specimens  cited. 
The  research  should  be  based  on  the  specimen  cited,  as  designated  by  the  collector's  name  and  field 
number.  All  specimens  are  in  the  collections  of  the  Arnold  Arboretum  and  Gray  Herbarium  of 
Harvard  University,  Cambridge,  Mass. 


Fig.  1 

the  Nyctaginaceous  genus  Mirabilis  (Herrera,  1934).  Tara  Huillca  has  been 
identified,  as  Anadenanthera  colubrina  (Yacovleff  &  Herrera,  1935),  but 
Tara,  alone,  refers  to  another  legume,  Oaesalpinia  tinctoria  (Herrera,  1934) . 
Wilca  Tarwi  has  been  assoicated  with  the  leguminous  genus  Lupinm  (Lastres, 
1941) .  The  chronicler  Poma  de  Ayala  (1936  ed. ;  Lastres,  1941)  reported  that 
the  Indians  purged  themselves  once  a  month  with  liilca  tauri,  made  from 
some  kind  of  seeds  ground  into  a  liquid,  half  of  which  was  drunk  and  half 
of  which  was  taken  as  an  enema  which  was  said  to  give  the  Incas  strength, 
health  and  a  200  years  life  span.  At  the  time  of  the  conquest,  the  word 
Vilcu  referred  in  Aymara  to  a  plant  with  yellow,  bird-like  flowers  (Gobo, 


1890  ed.,  Vol.  I).  It  also  meant  ivy  (Villcu)  Gonzalez  Holgrnn,  1607).  Our 
herbariiim  search  unearthed  two  specimens  of  the  climbing  Compositae, 
Mikania  cordifolia  {Mexia  801^2)  from  Peru  labelled  Huaco  verde,  and  M. 
Jumstoniana  {Gaec.  et  Ed.  Seler  51^75  (396))  from  the  ruins  of  Palenque, 
Mexico.  Villca  or  Huacca  both  meant  idol  (Gonzalez  Holguin,  1607)  or 
something  sacred  to  the  Incas.  Hence,  the  possibility  that  Mikania  species 
might  have  been  ritual  plants  deserves  a  thought. 

One  might  sum  up  what  generally  has  been  known  of  the  role  of  Vilca 
in  Peru  at  the  time  of  the  conquest  by  saying  that  it  seemed  to  be  confined 
mostly  to  simple  folk-medicine,  its  divinatory  aspects  divorced  from  formal- 
ized religion.  Eowe  has  stated  (in  Steward,  1946)  that  narcotics  were  im- 
important  to  the  Inca  culture  and  that  none  was  taken  expressly  to  obtain 
visions;  the  strongest  substances  reputedly  used  were  coca,  tobacco  and 
Vilca.  The  main  curatives  were  Ghicha,  Vilca  and  tobacco  (Fornee,  1885  ed.) , 
and  Peruvian  medicine  consisted  primarily  in  blood-letting,  purging  with 
Vilca,  and  in  taking  tobacco  {sayri)  snuff  (Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.). 

Besides  its  occurrence  with  reference  to  medical  botany,  the  term  Vilca 
appears  so  frequently  and  in  such  a  variety  of  contexts  in  the  historical  nar- 
ratives of  Peru  that  one  is  led  to  suspect  that  it  may  have  had  a  great 
antiquity  and  that  plants  passing  under  its  name  may  have  had  greater 
ritual  importance  in  earlier  times  than  at  the  time  of  the  conquest.  Various 
forms  of  the  word  meant  enema  or  clyster  {Vilca  or  Vilcas  in  Gonzalez 
Holguln,  1607;  Vilca  Tarvi  or  Vilcatauri  in  Lastres,  1941;  Vilcachima  in 
Lastres,  1951;  Vilcana  in  Gonzalez  Holguin,  1607,  Lavoreria,  1902,  Mossi, 
1860)  ;  the  giving  of  an  enema  (Vilcani  in  D'Harcourt,  1939,  Gonzalez  Hol- 
guin, 1607,  Mossi,  1860,  Lavoreria,  1902) ;  a  syringe  (Vilcana  in  Mossi, 
1860;  uilcachina  in  Poma  de  Ayala,  1936  ed.,  Lastres,  1951) ;  or  a  small 
stick  commonly  used  to  clean  the  rectum  in  the  Cuzco  area  (Vilcachina  in 
Lastres,  1951).  The  same  root  is  found  in  the  words  for  doctor  or  surgeon 
(Vilca-Oama  in  Velasco,  1840  ed.) ;  priest  or  informant  {V iliac  in  Lastres, 
1951) ;  and  ostrich-like  chief  (Surivilca  in  Lastres,  1941) ;  and  in  designa- 
tions of  familial  relationships  (Vilca  or  Vilcay  in  Gonzalez  Holguln,  1607, 
in  Mossi,  1857,  1860) .  In  1671,  Ogilby  stated  that  in  the  Chilean  language 
Vilca  meant  mother-in-law ; "  Hilca  meant  one-eyed  person.  Among  the 
Araucanians,  a  pivillca  was  a  flute  (Medina,  1882) .  In  the  area  of  the  Dia- 
guita  culture,  Vilka  is  today  a  surname  of  Quechua  or  Calchaqui  origin 
(Ambrosetti,  1917) . 

Essentially,  however,  Vilca  was  one  of  the  two  names  mentioned  earlier 
by  which  the  Peruvian  Indians  called  their  idols  or  gods.  It  was  used 
to  describe  whatever  was  first,  original  or  important  (Lastres,  1941),  and 
to  refer  to  any  sacred  place  or  thing  (Cobo,  1890-93  ed.;  Garcilaso  de  la 
Vega,  1688  ed.,  1941^  ed.;  Gonzalez  Holguin,  1607;  Mossi,  1860).  These 
include  words  for  an  idol  (Huacavilca  in  Lastres,  1941),  a  temple  (Hvxi- 
rivilca  in  Cieza  de  Leon,  1864  ed.),  a  town  or  village  (Vilca  or  Vilcas  in 
Cobo,  1890-93  ed.),  bodies  of  water  (Vilca  or  Vilcas,  a  river  in  Garcilaso  de 
la  Vega,  1688  ed. ;  Vilca-Mayo,  a  river  in  St.  Cricq,  1873-74  ed.  Vilca-cocha, 
a  lake  which  flows  into  the  Vilca-Mayo  in  St.  Cricq,  1873-74  ed.),  a  valley 


called  the  Paradise  of  Peru  {Vilca-Mayo  in  Cieza  de  Leon,  1864  ed.),  a 
mountain  peak  {Vilcanota  in  Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.,  1941-i4  ed. ; 
Hucmca  Vilca  in  Lastres,  1941;  Vilcaconga  in  Cobo,  1890-93  ed.)  or  a  sierra 
{Vilca  or  Vilcas,  Vilcanota  in  Cobo  1890-93  ed.),  a  province  (Vilca  Pampa 
in  Cobo,  1890-93  ed.,  Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.,  1941-44  ed. ;  Vilca  or 
Vilcas  in  Cobo,  1890-93  ed.,  Cieza  de  Leon,  1864  ed.)  or  a  people  {Vilca  or 
Vilcas  in  Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.,  1941-44  ed. ;  Chumbivilcas  in  Cobo, 
1890-93  ed.,  Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.,  1941-44  ed. ;  Huancamlca  in 
Cieza  de  Leon,  1864  ed.) . 

Among  the  ritual  paraphernalia  which  seem  to  relate  to  Vilca  are  the  vilca 
ronco  (Gonzalez  Holguin,  1607) ,  small  coca- filled  baskets  which  were  thrown 
into  the  fire  at  animal  sacrifices  in  Cuzco.  One  might  mention,  also,  the  vilques, 
earthenware  jugs  with  which  the  Indians  toasted  their  dead,  after  which 
the  chicha  contained  in  them  was  poured  over  a  round  stone  which  they 
worshipped  in  the  middle  of  a  plaza  (Cobo,  1890-93  ed.).  The  chronicler 
Acosta  (1584,  folio  104)  relates  that  the  Spanish  conquerors  ordered  the 
Incas  to  stop  worshipping  the  sun,  moon  and  so  on,  ".  .  .  ni  tengays  villcas, 
ni  guacas,  ni  figura  de  hombre,  .  .  ." 

An  Incaic  version  of  the  origin  of  the  medicinal  Vilca  (Santa  Cruz 
Pachacuti,  1927  ed. ;  Yacovleff  &  Herrera,  1935)  states  that  an  Inca  captain 
named  Villcaquire^  being  struck  down  in  war  by  his  nation's  enemies,  the 
Chanca,  requested  that  he  be  buried  in  the  trunk  of  a  nearby  tree  which, 
he  foretold,  would  produce  villca  seeds,  io  dispell  all  bad  humors  and  choler 
from  his  people.  The  story  takes  place  above  a  river  on  the  Aporima  road. 
Specimens  of  Anadenanthera  colubrina  {West  3679,  38Jfo)  have  been  iden- 
tified from  the  Department  of  Apurimac.  I  would  not  be  surprised  to 
learn  that  the  story  was  a  relatively  modern  one  which  served  the  needs 
of  the  Incas  to  attribute  to  their  own  invention  something  which  had  its 
origins  in  much  earlier  times.  It  is  tempting  to  wonder  whether  the  medicinal 
Vilca  had  had  an  important  role  among  the  people  named  Vilca,  who  were 
numbered  among  the  Chanca  (Garcilaso  de  la  Vega,  1688  ed.).  Legend 
has  associated  the  Vilca  with  edifices  whose  art  and  grandeur,  built  cen- 
turies before  the  Inca  monarchy,  was  much  admired  and  emulated  by  the 
Inca  culture  (Cobo,  1890-93  ed.) . 

Modern  archaeology  has  cast  doubt  as  to  the  veracity  of  some  of  the  his- 
tories in  the  early  narratives,  and,  geographically,  it  is  not  easy  to  locate 
many  of  the  places  referred  to  in  the  sixteenth  and  seventeenth  century 
writings  on  Peru.  However,  a  number  of  names  incorporating  the  term 
Vilca  can  be  found  today  on  a  map  of  southern  Peru,  correlating  in  general 
with  the  distribution  of  Anadenanthera  in  that  country. 

Archaeological  data  suggest  that  the  use  of  enemas  was  more  widespread 
in  pre-conquest  times  than  it  was  when  the  Spaniards  arrived  (Heizer,  1944 ; 
Nordenskiold,  1930;  Velez-Lopez,  1930).  What  was  used  in  these  enemas 
and  in  the  tubes  and  tablets  of  the  neighboring  regions  has  not  been  deter- 
mined, to  my  knowledge.  Anadenanthera  seeds  have  not  been  foimd  at  any 
Peruvian  sites,  as  far  as  I  know.  The  Getil  snuffs  used  at  the  time  of  contact 
among  the  Mataco  and  Vilela  cultures  of  northern  Argentina  appear  to 


have  been  Anadenanthera-deTiyed.  But  tlie  use  of  this  genus  further  south 
beyond  its  natural  distribution  is  less  likely.  Yet  there,  further  south,  the 
Comechingon  Indians  took  something  called  Sehil  through  the  nose  (Sotelo 
Narvaez,  1915  ed.),  and  the  Huarpe  Indians  chewed  a  substance  called  Gibil 
for  endurance  (Ovalle,  1703).  Perhaps  one  even  should  ask  whether  the 
monumental  weeping  god  with  the  tear-streaked  cheeks  at  Tiahuanaco  m 
Bolivia  might  be  depicted  in  a  state  of  intoxication  from  a  powerful  snuff 
or  emetic. 

This  paper  has  posed  many  more  questions  than  it  has  attempted  to 
answer,  but  it  has  been  instrumental  in  pointing  out  some  unusual  approaches 
to  a  better  knowledge  of  Vilca,  which  could  serve  as  a  model  for  studies 
on  other  little  known  so-called  narcotics.  The  facts  gathered  here  suggest 
that  a  number  of  hitherto  unsuspected  species  should  be  analyzed  for  psycho- 
activity,  and  that  the  drug  plants  used  by  man  in  the  New  World  may 
prove  to  constitute  a  richer  and  more  elaborate  complex  than  we  yet  have 
been  led  to  believe.  The  early  writings  deserve  to  be  read  again,  and  her- 
barium information  should  be  sought  more  assiduously. 


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Epena,  the  Intoxicating  Snuff 
Powder  of  the  Waika  Indians 
and  the  Tucano  Medicine 
Man,  Agostino ' 

George  J.  Seitz 

Koln-Lindenthal,  Diirenerstrasse  175,  Germany 

The  WAIKA  Indians  belong  to  an  isolated  group  of  natives  called  YANO- 
AMA  or  YANONAMI.  They  live  in  the  triangle  formed  by  the  Eio  Brarico 
in  the  southeast,  the  Uraricuera  and  Upper  Orinoco  Eivers  in  the  north  and 
the  Rio  Negro  in  the  southwest.  This  territory  lies  on  both  sides  of  the  bound- 
ary between  Brazil  and  Venezuela. 

During  the  last  ten  years,  my  wife  and  I  made  six  expeditions  to  several 
WAIKA  tribes  in  the  region  of  the  Upper  Rio  Negro,  that  is  the  southwest- 
ern part  of  that  habitat,  situated  in  the  Brazilian  Territory  near  the  Vene- 
zuelan boundary.  We  found  these  tribes 

(1)  near  the  TUCANO  IGARAPfi,  one  of  the  headwaters  of  the  Caua- 
bori  River, 

(2)  on  the  Maturaca  Channel,  in  the  south  of  the  Fall  of  HUA, 

( 3 )  on  the  Marauia  River,  near  the  Igarape  IRAPIRAPl  and 

(4)  on  the  Upper  Maia  River,  a  branch  of  the  Cauabori  River. 

These  Indians  are  nomads.  We  had  a  lot  of  difficulties  in  finding  them  and 
their  primitive  villages,  called  "SHABONO".  They  are  always  rather  dis- 
tant from  the  rivers,  and  we  had  to  march  hours  and  hours  through  the  thick 
jungle  to  reach  them. 

Without  the  assistance  and  the  experience  of  a  Catholic  priest — the  only 
Avhite  man  who  had  made  contact  with  the  WAIKA  Indians  before — our 
expeditions  scarcely  would  have  been  successful. 

The  name  WAIKA  means  KILLER — a  nice,  gentle  sort  of  name.  Un- 
doubtedly, the  group  is  one  of  the  most  primitive  in  South  America.  They 
have  never  found  out  how  to  make  a  boat  or  a  raft.  As  nomads,  these  Indians 
make  pots ;  they  do  not  know  anything  about  alcoholic  drinks,  or  mandioc, 
the  most  important  vegetable  of  the  southern  Hemisphere  besides  corn. 

In  a  region  where  the  rivers  provide  the  most  important  traffic  routes,  they 
have  never  found  out  how  to  make  a  boat  or  a  raft.  As  nomads,  these  Indians 
wander  about  the  jimgle.  They  live  in  primitive,  wall-less,  palm-thatched 
huts  only  as  long  as  the  food  lasts  in  the  neighborhood.  When  they  eat  up 
aU  the  food  around,  they  go  to  another  village  with  huts  just  as  primitive. 
They  are  a  restless  people  that  live  off  the  land.  And  they  live  in  a  period 
that  for  us  is  prehistoric. 

^The  presentation  of  this  paper  was  given  In  conjunction  with  the  showing  of  an  excellent, 
Informative  film.  The  photographs  In  this  paper  come  from  this  film.  (Editor) 


They  have  never  learned  anything  from  their  more  advanced  neighbors, 
the  ARUAK  group,  represented  by  the  TUCANO  and  BANIVA  tribes. 

The  existence  of  these  WAIKA  Indians  has  been  known  for  more  than  a 
hundred  years.  However,  explorers  of  the  region — Humboldt,  and  at  the  be- 
ginning of  our  century,  Koch-Griinberg  and  Hamilton  Eice — gave  only  brief 
reports  about  the  WAIKAS.  They  had  only  occasional  meetings  with  a  few 
Indians  from  this  group.  These  quick  meetings  did  not  give  any  basis  for 
more  than  superficial  notes. 

In  general,  the  explorers  knew  about  the  WAIKAS  from  the  stories  of 
other  Indians,  who  described  the  Indians  as  terrible  enemies,  who  used  their 
poisoned  arrows  to  keep  out  trespassers. 

In  the  Brazilian  territory,  the  WAIKAS  made  their  first  mark  in  modern 
history  in  1929,  when  they  attacked  the  settlements  of  rubber-tappers  in  the 
area  between  the  Imeri  Range  and  the  Upper  Rio  Negro — along  the  Demiti, 
Cauabori,  Marauia  and  Padauirl  Rivers.  The  Indians  attacked  suddenly, 
killed  the  men  and  carried  off  the  women  and  children.  The  survivors  fled  to 
the  Rio  Negro.  For  25  years,  until  1954,  everybody  kept  away  from  the  area 
for  fear  of  the  Indians.  In  1954,  a  Catholic  priest  of  the  Salesian  mission  in 
Tapuruquara,  Rev.  Antonio  Goes,  entered  the  territory,  went  up  the  Caua- 
bori River  by  boat  and  made  the  first  peaceable  contact  with  a  tribe  of  the 

We  met  the  priest  in  1955  when  we  went  through  Tapuruquara  on  an  expe- 
dition to  the  Colombian  frontier.  One  year  later,  in  1956,  we  went  with  him 
to  the  WAIKA  village  situated  near  the  headwaters  of  the  Cauabori  River, 
a  few  miles  from  the  Venezuelan  boundary. 

It  was  the  priest's  third  visit  to  the  tribe,  where  we  found  about  200  In- 
dians in  their  original,  primitive  state.  They  never  had  any  previous  contact 
with  civilized  people  other  than  the  priest  and  then,  ourselves. 

In  two  later  visits,  we  were  able  to  observe  and  to  film  their  daily  village 
life,  but  we  saw  nothing  of  the  snuff.  We  saw  them  dancing  under  the  in- 
fluence of  the  EPfiNA,  but  we  were  not  able  to  see  the  snuff  prepared.  When 
we  asked,  they  told  us  that  the  ingredients  did  not  grow  nearby. 

Our  relations  improved  with  the  repeated  visits.  On  our  fourth  trip  in  1960, 
we  were  received  like  old  friends.  We  were  shown  the  ingredients.  We  saw 
that  they  were  neither  seeds  of  PIPTADENIA  PEREGRINA  nor  of  any 
other  tree.  Tliey  turned  out  to  be  two  kinds  of  bark  and  the  leaves  of  a  small 
plant.  For  the  first  time,  we  Avere  able  to  get  some  of  the  snuff  by  exchanging 
gifts.  It  was  the  same  powder  that  I  sent  to  Professor  Holmstedt,  who 
analysed  it.  He  found  tryptamine  derivatives  to  be  the  active  components. 
In  1965,  finally,  we  had  a  chance  to  film  the  snuff-making  process. 

The  Preparation  of  the  Epena  Snuff-Powder 

We  could  observe  and  film  the  whole  process  of  the  EPfiNA  preparation 
on  the  Upper  Marauia  River  in  the  village  of  the  KARAUETARI  tribe. 
First  we  looked,  in  the  company  of  two  Indians,  for  a  tree  of  the  species 


Fig.  1.— a  sapling  of  "EPENA." 

VmOLA  CALLOPHYLLOIDEA,  Markgraf,  called  by  the  Indians 

We  had  started  in  the  early  morning  because  the  Indians  said  that  the 
bark  has  to  be  stripped  in  the  early  hours  of  the  day  for  the  snuff  powder  to  be 
good.  The  EPfiNA  trees  did  not  exist  in  any  quantity.  We  marched  three 
days  through  the  jungle  to  find  a  group  of  them. 

When  the  bark  is  stripped  it  appears  white  on  its  inner-side,  but  only  a 
few  seconds  later  a  red  brownish  resin  like  liquid  begins  to  exude  in  drops. 
The  Indians  told  us  that  this  "bleeding"  is  more  intensive  before  the  heat 
of  the  tropical  sun  begins  to  penetrate  the  forest. 

The  inner-side  of  the  bark  consists  in  a  soft  fibre-like  layer  that  the  Indians 
scrape  off  with  a  knife.  These  scrapings — moistened  by  the  red  brownish 
liquid — are  collected  on  a  palm-leaf  and  carried  to  the  village  for  drying. 


Th.e  drying  process  begins  very  slowly.  The  scrapings  are  fastened  on  a 
twisted  disk  which  will  be  put  approximately  four  feet  above  a  slow  fire,  and 
there  remain  till  the  next  morning.  Then  comes  the  second  phase  of  the 
drying,  more  intensive,  directly  over  the  fire. 

In  this  state  the  scrapings  are  stored  till  the  second  ingredient  of  the 
snuff -powder,  called  AMA  ASITA,  is  ready.  AMA  ASITA  is  a  tall  tree  that 
was  not  possible  to  classify  as  yet.  But  it  seems  to  be  a  TEICHILIA  species. 
Also,  this  tree  seems  to  be  scarce. 

Before  stripping  the  Indians  looked  for  a  specimen  with  smooth  bark. 
They  took  only  strips  of  bark  whose  outside  was  entirely  perfect.  This 
outside  is  important.  It  is  the  only  part  used.  It  was  separated  from  the  inner 
side  of  the  bark  immediately  after  the  stripping  and  carried  to  the  village. 
There  these  outside  strips  of  the  bark  were  cut  in  pieces  and  put  in  a  fire. 
As  soon  as  they  began  to  glow,  the  Indians  took  them  out  of  the  fire  and  let 
them  burn  to  ashes  separately.  They  watched  carefully,  to  see  that  no  piece 
of  any  other  wood  or  bark  might  be  mixed  with  them. 

Fig.  2.— Stripping  of  the  "EPfiNA"  bark. 


Fig.  3. — Only  a  few  seconds  after  the  stripping  the  red-brownish  liquid  begins  to  exude 
in  drops  and  tinges  the  clearsighted  wood  of  the  trunk  and  the  inner  side  of  the  bark. 

These  ashes  of  the  AMA  ASITA-bark  are  called  by  the  WAIKA-Indians, 

While  the  bark  was  burning  separately,  our  Indian  began  to  rub  down 
the  dried  EPfiNA  scrapings  with  his  hands.  He  did  it  sitting  on  the  ground 
and  pressing  his  knees  against  his  hands. 

After  reducing  the  EPfiNA  scrapings  to  a  crumbled  dust,  the  Indian 
roasted  it  for  a  short  time  over  the  fire.  Then  he  mixed  it  with  the  ashes  of 
AMA  ASITA.  The  proportion  of  the  mixture  was  50 :  50.  As  it  is  measured 
by  sight,  the  snuff-powders  of  the  different  manufacturers  never  have  the 
same  tone  of  colour. 

The  snuff  was  not  yet  sufficiently  uniform  and  refined.  It  contained  little 
spelts  and  crumbs  that  had  to  be  eliminated.  This  was  done  in  a  little  basket 
such  as  each  WAIKA  household  owned.  The  Indian  beat  the  basket  gently, 
and  the  resulting  dust  was  the  final  snuff -powder.  It  was  kept  in  a  bamboo- 
tube,  the  usual  storage  box  of  the  WAIKAS.  Four  or  five  of  these  tubes  are 
stuck  between  the  palm-tree-leaves  of  each  hut.  The  smaller  tubes  are  usually 
used  for  snuff-powder,  and  the  bigger  ones  for  keeping  feathers,  arrow-heads 
and  pigment  for  painting  the  body. 


Fig.  4. — The  inner  side  of  the  bark  consists  in  a  soft  fibre-like  layer  that  the  Indians 

scrape  off  with  a  knife. 


Fig.  5.— a  branch  of  AMA  ASITA. 


Fig.  6. — -The  AMA  ASITA  bark  is  stripped.  Note  that  the  wood  of  the  trunk  remains 



Fig.  7. — The  outside  of  the  bark  is  separated  from  its  inner  side. 


Fig.  9. — The  dried  "EPENA"  scrapings  are  rubbed  down  with  the  hands. 


In  another  WAIKA-village,  near  the  Maturaca-channel,  we  saw  that  a 
third  ingredient  was  added :  the  little  leaves  of  a  HEEBACEUS-plant,  called 
MASHI HIEI,  like  t